Media Release – 16 July 2019
New cemetery approval to meet critical shortage of burial plots
The NSW Independent Planning Commission has recommended for approval a Crown cemetery at Varroville following a recent decision to refuse another proposed cemetery development at Wallacia, also proposed by the Catholic Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (CMCT).
The CMCT will soon commence preliminary work on the Varroville Cemetery site and will continue its consultation with key stakeholders about future land use at the Wallacia Golf Course site.
CEO of the not-for-profit Catholic Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust, Mr Peter O’Meara said that Varroville was the priority and CMCT would focus all of its financial and human resources on ensuring Varroville was commissioned without delay.
The sites have been acquired in accordance with legislative obligations and are supported by Cemeteries and Crematoria NSW, as well as multiple religious and cultural community groups.
Community leaders have welcomed the approved development of the new multi-faith cemetery at Varroville on the outskirts of Sydney to meet the needs of a rapidly growing and diverse multi-cultural population.
A 2017 government report found that if there is no change to existing cremation and grave occupancy rates, cemetery capacity in metropolitan Sydney would be exhausted by 2051. Unavailability of at-need burial plots can be expected from 2026 across certain areas of Sydney.
Once completed, the Varroville cemetery is forecast to add 136,000 burial plots over the next 100 years and will help meet the needs of the 35% per cent of Sydneysiders whose preference is burial, rather than cremation.
Mr Peter O’Meara said the approval means the trust can now help future generations meet the challenges of declining burial space in a rapid growth area of Sydney.
“We have strong Catholic populations in Sydney’s South West region and the new cemetery will help us cater for their needs, as well as those from other denominations,” Mr O’Meara said.
“This approval ensures the interment practices and beliefs of all religious and cultural groups are respected and provided for. We welcome everyone to these world-class facilities and public recreational spaces”, he added.
The NSW Minister for Water, Property and Housing, the Hon Melinda Pavey also welcomed the approval saying this vital infrastructure was a great step towards addressing the critical problem of diminishing burial space in Sydney.
Chairman of the Riverstone Muslim Cemetery Board, Mr Kazi Ali said the lack of burial space has created a real crisis for his community and more multi-faith cemeteries are long overdue.
“Our cemetery space is close to capacity and with the Muslim community forecast to continue growing over the coming decades, new cemeteries are critical.” Mr Ali said.
The Chief Executive Officer of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Mr Vic Alhadeff has also welcomed the plans.
“We are due to run out of graves available for purchase in Sydney within five years and this new cemetery will provide for our community’s burial needs at least until the end of the century”, he said.
In addition to burial space, Varroville will include passive recreation areas, gardens and landscaped walkways accessible to everyone in the community in perpetuity.
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