Plans to improve facilities and capacity at a cemetery and crematorium in south Birmingham have been unveiled, following a surge in city deaths due to COVID.

King’s Norton Cemetery, which opened its first two phases in 2005, is set to reach capacity in less than two years and available graves for baby and Muslim burials are set to do the same shortly.

Before April 2020, around 219 burials took place at the cemetery per year, but during the COVID pandemic that figure rose to an average of 525 burials a year, Birmingham City Council revealed in a statement.

The proposed £2.25m expansion would see phases 3 and 4 created in fields next to the cemetery, providing many years capacity.

A separate report, outlining plans to replace the burners at Yardley Crematorium, which were last replaced in the late 1990s, is also set to be discussed at the next council cabinet meeting on 1 March.

The crematorium, which carries out more than 100 cremations a month, will see its burner technology undergo a £2.25m upgrade to a more efficient two-burner system that produces cleaner emissions.

Both these schemes, which aim to improve facilities for local communities in south Birmingham, will be funded from Bereavement Services’ budget.

Paul Lankester, Interim Assistant Director for Regulation and Enforcement at Birmingham City Council, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on cemetery capacity, which has seen available grave space being used at a much greater rate than previously forecast.

“Kings Norton is currently the main cemetery in south Birmingham, so this investment is essential to enable us to further expand the site to meet immediate as well as future demands.

“Replacing the burner technology at Yardley Crematorium is also vital, as this was last renewed in the late 1990s and the new equipment is more efficient, producing improved air quality emissions.”

Kings Norton cemetery

Kings Norton cemetery is located in Kings Norton, Birmingham, on the site of a former Roman settlement. The site has kept a lot of its ancient features, including its ancient hedgerows and ditches.

The cemetery has a natural burial area, Primrose Meadow, which looks as much as possible as a natural British meadow. In this area the graves aren’t tended and are instead left to blend in with the wild flowers, with grass cutting limited to twice yearly.

Graves available for adult interment on lawn header sections include two cremation sections, able to receive up to two or four cremated remains. There is also currently Adult Muslim lawn header sections and Primrose Meadow natural burial area.

Yardley cemetery and crematorium

Opened in 1883, Yardley cemetery covers around 64 acres. The Council developed one of its chapels and turned it into the crematorium, which opened in 1952.

The cemetery and crematorium are easy to get to from the main drives.

Yardley cemetery currently has no land for new full graves. Full interments, burials or scattering of cremated remains continue to take place in private family graves.

Graves for cremated remains are still available to purchase for the burial of up to two sets of remains.

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