The conversion of the First Chapel (Grade II listed) at the Fairmile Cemetery to a Columbarium (a public storage of urns holding a deceased’s cremated remains) is to be pursued further by Henley Town Council (HTC) even though they were not successful in their application for grant funding from the Chiltern LEADER Programme.
The application for funding submitted in September 2018 to the LEADER programme was for £120,000 and HTC approved expenditure of up to £40,000 based on the total estimated costs of £160,000 for the conversion of the interior. The LEADER programme’s decision to not award the grant was made because the project will generate an income, and that the amount of public funding from the LEADER programme and the Town Council funding combined (due to state aid regulations) could therefore only cover 40% of the cost.
The idea to convert the First Chapel into a Columbarium was first recommended at the Recreations & Amenities Committee meeting in October 2017. The Columbarium will have the installation of ‘bookcase’-style structures with niches to store the urns of varying size.
At the Finance, Strategy and Management Meeting in November last year, members also agreed for £25,000 from earmarked reserves to be used to eliminate damp penetration in the First Chapel by digging a land drain around the perimeter.
At the Full Council this week Council members voted to continue with the project but not build the island cabinets in the first instance. So the niches around the walls would be the first phase and if popular the island niches can follow on at a later stage. It is hoped that this option will save approx. £35-40K from the project thus taking the capital spend down from £160k to around £120-125K. Further grants, donations or crowd funding opportunities will be investigated.