The Malta Independent 23 April 2018, Monday

Planning application could lead to Malta’s first crematorium

Kevin Schembri Orland Tuesday, 17 April 2018, 10:23 Last update: about 5 days ago

A planning application that has been filed could lead to the construction of a crematorium on ODZ land in Paola, right next to the Addolorata cemetery.

The application filed is an outline development permit application. This type of planning permission seeks to establish whether the scale and nature of a proposed development is acceptable in principle to the Authority. Subsequent to receiving this planning permission an applicant will require a full development permit to actually carry out the project. Few details are required with this application, while a more detailed brief would be required in the full development application.

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Active Group, the holding company of Camilleri Funeral Directors International has submitted an application with the Planning Authority requesting an outline development permit for a memorial park which would include a funeral home and a crematorium. The site chosen is at Tal-Horr, Paola.

The Environmental Health Directorate has objected to such a development, stating that there is no current legislation in Malta that regulates the operation of a crematorium.

The Camilleri Funeral Directors International Facebook page reads: “The memorial park will offer various possibilities for scattering of the cremated ashes in a garden, woodland burial of ashes or above ground burial niches.”

“The crematorium is intended to be part of a funeral home having a fully equipped mortuary, viewing rooms for families, a chapel and reception hall for post cremation family gatherings. Plans have been submitted with the Planning Authority in February and are currently under review.”

While the application is still in the early stages, having been submitted last November, the ERA has made some initial comments. “ERA notes that the proposed building is to be located within the main clump of trees that currently exist on site. In this regard, and also when considering that this particular area is designated as a Tree Protection Area, the Authority recommended that the location of the main building be shifted in order to avoid damage/uprooting of the said trees.” The ERA also mentioned the need for a survey of all trees present within the site plan, a photo of the said area; and a proposed compensatory planting plan and landscaping plan in order to cater for any trees removed.

The Superintendence of Cultural Heritage has also already weighed in. It took note of the close proximity to the Santa Maria Addolorata Cemetery; “a building of archaeological, architectural and historical value which has been scheduled at Grade 1 for its protection by the Planning Authority. Any proposed development in this area should aim to preserve and enhance this archaeological, architectural and historical context. The site lies also adjacent to a historical underground reservoir which forms part of the Santa Marija Addolorata Cemetery and has also been scheduled at Grade 1 for its protection by the Planning Authority. Any proposed works should ensure that no negative impact is created on the stability of this historical building. Several ancient tombs and funerary archaeological remains have been documented at the area of Tal-Ħorr. The survival of further archaeological remains within the captioned site cannot be excluded.”

The Superintendence however, found no objection to the proposal as long as works are archaeologically monitored and that the proposal is in conformity with prevailing rules and regulations.

The Agricultural Advisory Committee has also said that in principle it is against the construction of non-agricultural development which is not permitted by the Rural Policy and Design Guidance 2014.

The issue of cremation has been discussed in the past, most recently in the Parliamentary Committee for Social Affairs. A number of experts had reportedly told the committee that the introduction of cremation would require authorities to create provisions for storing samples of DNA of the deceased. The committee was told that currently, the police or the courts from time to time need to exhume a body for a DNA sample for a court case.

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