MORE than 30 different native plant species from the South Downs will make up a large wildflower meadow at Havant’s new crematorium.
The first turf of the meadow was laid in a ceremony yesterday at the eight-acre site, off Bartons Road.
The multi-million pound development, surrounded by the bluebell woods of Barton’s Copse, is being built by The Southern Co-operative with an emphasis on creating a tranquil space to celebrate life.
Construction work on the chapel is now well under way.
The building will feature a roof covered in sedum plants to help it blend into the woodland surrounding.
At the back will be the meadow, featuring native species such as red campion, oxeye daisy, meadowsweet and cowslips.
There will be other areas for families to reflect, including a landscaped garden and a pond.
Mounds are being installed to represent the South Downs.
Mark Smith, chief executive of The Southern Co-operative, which is based at Lakeside, North Harbour, said: ‘It’s really coming along.
‘This is going to be such a better place and location to do this than even we thought initially, with the amount of space there is for quiet areas and quiet contemplation.
‘Stepping out of the building, you are in this fantastic space.
‘There’s birdsong right on the edge of the urban fringe. It’s a unique site.’
The Southern Co-operative has been working with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust on the project.
Gemma Lacey, head of sustainability at the company, said: ‘I’ve been working with the trust to make sure that as the development proceeds we protect the wildlife and ecology that’s here.
‘We are also looking at ways we can enhance it as well.
‘We have got some beautiful ancient woodland around the perimeter.
‘There are oaks and yew trees and it’s a real haven for wildlife. We have got some rare species of bat.’
The crematorium is set to open by late October.
It will house a chapel capable of seating 90 people.
There will be up to five services a day, each lasting about 45 minutes.
‘This is a crematorium for the 21st century’
THE chapel will feature a state-of-the-art music system and a large screen for families wishing to do video tributes.
Steve Pearce, chief operating officer for end of life services at The Southern Co-operative, said: ‘It’s looking at making sure the life of the deceased is celebrated in the correct way.
‘It’s very much a 21st century crematorium with everything that’s needed to reflect a celebration of life.’
The site will have around 90 car parking spaces. Mr Pearce added: ‘We are confident the number of spaces we have is more than adequate.’