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Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Government push ahead with plans for Symonston ‘bush cemetery’

Early designs for a future bush cemetery on Canberra’s southside, Southern Memorial Park, to be built in Symonston across the road from the tip, have today been released for community feedback.

Key planned features of the future Southern Memorial Park stages include a variety of burial and memorial areas; a main visitor facility with memorial halls, function rooms, hospitality facilities, florist and crematorium; and further landscaping that is consistent with the native surroundings.

Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel said the move to establish the Symonston memorial park is being done to ensure the ACT has the “cemetery and crematoria facilities that will meet the city’s needs for the next 100 years”.

“Southern Memorial Park is proposed to be a full-service cemetery set in a natural grassy woodland landscape and is planned to have focus on natural burials, as well providing space for traditional burials,” he said.

The masterplan outlines a long-term, four-stage plan to develop the park over the next 85-plus years.

Stage one is planned to include the basic infrastructure to establish the Memorial Park including a signalled road access point from Mugga Lane, preparation for future wetlands, car parking, landscaping and the first 2,500 burial plots.

That work on the Canberra bush cemetery is due to be operational within five years of the detailed design being completed.

The Government will also explore delivering some natural burials as part of the first stage.

Stage two, which incorporates a crematorium, memorial halls, function halls, café, mausoleum, outdoor chapel, administration building and supporting infrastructure, will see some of the “most needed” facilities operational five years after stage one, with the remaining features to be implemented over 50 years.

This announcement comes after last month the ACT’s first publicly owned crematorium officially opened at Gungahlin Cemetery.

The Government has been undertaking detailed environmental studies and a staging plan for the development for the new Memorial Park to be ready for consultation with the community.

The initial masterplan for the future Symonston Southern Memorial Park was prepared in 2012, with revised masterplan now being presented for initial consultation.

In the 2018-19 ACT Budget, funding was provided to review and update the 2012 masterplan given the time that had passed since its completion.

The updated Canberra bush cemetery masterplan has incorporated feedback from engagement sessions undertaken with faith groups and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

“The Government has recently undertaken an extensive review of cemeteries and crematoria in the ACT and this is also informing the design of Southern Memorial Park which will cater for our diverse community,” Minister Steel said.

Community consultation commenced today, with feedback being sought on features like public art, walking and cycling trails, nature play areas for children and landscaping design.

Consultation runs until 7 June 2021. The community is invited to provide feedback on the designs via this link.

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