Kinghorn’s unique eco cemetery plans with views to die for!
Fife Today, by Tanya Scoon
With its picturesque lochside setting and stunning scenery it’s an idyllic setting for a final resting place. And the piece of land on the eastern bank of Kinghorn loch could be just that if exciting plans for an eco cemetery complete with Lord of the Rings-style columbarium – a grassy mound in which people’s ashes can be placed – are given the go-ahead by Fife Council planners. The plans have been welcomed by the local community.
Pics by FPA The site earmarked for the eco cemetery, which would be run as a social enterprise and the first of its kind in the UK, is owned by Kinghorn Community Land Association (KCLA) which owns various small plots of land in and around the town for the benefit of the local community. And, with burial space running out in the traditional cemeteries the project, which is being championed by KCLA working with Edinburgh-based architects Simpson and Brown at a site just behind the new Ecology Centre, is being given a positive response from local people. Two public information sessions held at the Ecology Centre last weekend and Kinghorn Community Centre on Tuesday, brought an almost unanimous positive response.
The plans include both traditional and eco burial areas on a site which has been planned around the natural contours of the land on which it sits, making the most of its stunning features. The site layout It would incorporate a four-chamber columbarium, similar in appearance to an Iron Age barrow – a hollow grass-covered mound with passages and curved chambers with 400 recessed niches in the walls in which ashes could be sealed and candles placed. These will include family vaults which people can buy at a reasonable cost to cover the facility’s running costs, and all money raised will be put back into the running, maintenance and management costs of the cemetery.
As many natural and recyclable materials as possible would be used in the building of the structures. And, as well as the burial areas and vaults it would include a covered but open seating area, sculptures, a memorial garden, reflection pond and viewpoint with an outlook over the Bass Rock and beyond.
Maeshowe burial site in Orkney is being shown as an example of what the columbarium could look like Wooden marker posts, wildflower areas and growing areas would be shared with the Ecology Centre to help with the upkeep of the cemetery.
Initial surveys carried out by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) have specified that only seven burials a year could be carried out on the site, but KCLA says this could possibly be increased when things are up and running. Peter Lindow, a trustee of KCLA, said the plans had seen a very positive reception from the local community. “KCLA bought this land legally in March. We had always been keen to have some sort of cemetery on this land because Kinghorn Cemetery is full. “We put the idea to a landscape architect and told him what we wanted and another of our trustees, Karen Dundas, came up with the idea of including a columbarium, which she had heard about from a place in Wiltshire, and everyone thought it was a great idea.
“We came up with a draft brief and sent it out to six architects and we were very impressed with what came back from Simpson and Brown, particularly as they have done a lot of work with other voluntary groups like ours. “Our first step will be to obtain planning permission and we hope to have an application in with the council by the end of the month.
If that is passed then the hard work of raising around £250,000 will start. “We are hopeful that Fife Council will help out as it will help ease some of the burden on them for burial plots, and we will be seeking grants from the Lottery and groups like the Natural Burial Association, as well as getting the local community involved in fundraising events. “We have put out leaflets around the town letting people know about this and they can give their feedback throughout September.”
Neil McDonald, project architect with Simpson and Brown, said the plans had been all about working with the natural landscape to see how everything could fit in best. “The landscape architect had come up with his plans and we wanted to knit ours to fit together with that, setting up the view lines and working with the contours.
We based our plans around a vague idea of Stonehenge with the standing stones there and the columbarium was designed to have the four chambers reflecting the seasons, curved and flowing around the natural contours of the land.
“These are just outline ideas at the moment and if planning is granted more work will be done on the details.” Members of the local craft group which popped in for a look at the proposals, including an artist’s impression of a walk through of the columbarium, were impressed by what they saw. Anne Muir from Kinghorn said: “I am sure it will be welcomed by most people. ‘‘It is a great idea and a beautiful setting.” Helen Erskine said: “I was quite surprised when I saw the drawings.
It will be something completely different and it looks more like a park than a cemetery. I am impressed.” Nanette Davis said: “Talk of a woodland burial site has been going on for years. I like the way it’s all very natural and out in the open air.” Hazel Chisholm added: “I am really excited about this.
I wasn’t sure what it was going to be like but it looks lovely. It is good that the land is being used in a naturally constructive way without just building houses on it.” Jim Allison said: “I like the standing stones within it which is a nice touch to the area’s history. We can look up the hill and see them.”