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Undertaker keen to buy Nairn chapel from Highland Council

By Donald Wilson

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Nairn Rest Room/chapel of rest at the cemetery has been put on the open market by Highland Council for £60k.
Nairn Rest Room/chapel of rest at the cemetery has been put on the open market by Highland Council for £60k.

AN undertaker has revealed he is interested in buying the Nairn Chapel of Rest at Nairn Cemetery from Highland Council.

Fears were raised locally on social media that the facility may be lost to the community when the council announced it was putting the building up for sale last week.

The council has described the property, which was until the 1960s the cemetery superintendent’s lodge, as surplus to requirements. Offers of £60,000 and over are being sought.

One funeral director, Calum Ross of David M Ellen Funeral Directors, has indicated he is interested in purchasing the property and redeveloping it.

The only other funeral operator in Nairn, Jim Clark of C G Higgins & Co, said the important thing is that the facility is retained for funerals and not sold off to a developer potentially as a housing site.

The building was turned into a chapel for small funerals over 60 years ago, when the then cemetery superintendent was allocated a council house nearby in the newly-built Boath Park estate.

The lodge was converted into a chapel for smaller funeral services and provided an alternative to church funerals.

In the 1980s, the building was extended and refurbished by Nairn District Council using pews from the Rosebank Church which closed in 1979. It has been in regular use since up until the Covid outbreak in March last year.

Mr Ross revealed his company approached Highland Council in 2019 to purchase the chapel along with some of the surrounding grounds for future development.

“The council subsequently looked into the possible sale and have now placed the property on the open market. It has been clear for a number of years that Nairn Cemetery Chapel requires significant investment.

“Our bid to purchase this property not only guarantees that it will keep its current purpose, but also comes with a promise that it will be developed to the highest of standards. Our ethos is to provide a dignified yet modern service embracing new technologies which in turn endeavours to meet the ever-changing needs of our clients.”

He added:”We have a few ideas on how we would like to develop the property, but at this stage it is very difficult to elaborate on this. However, our intention is to upgrade the facility in a way that is tastefully and sympathetically modernised.

“If our bid to purchase the property was successful, and another local funeral director did approach us to use the facility, we would be happy to consider their proposal.”

Mr Clark said: “The important thing is it continues to serve as a chapel for the community of Nairn. If it closed it would be a serious loss to the community, and it would be an awful shame if it went to a developer for housing.”

He said he hadn’t been consulted about the building, but approached the council in late summer of last year in the hope it could be reopened for services allowing up to 20 people to attend.

“But they said they didn’t have the manpower to clean it. I think the reality is since it came under the control of Highland Council they have been trying to get rid of it.”

A council spokesperson confirmed the property closed in March 2020, and was “surplus to the council’s requirements”.

They added that no public consultation was required when the council sells surplus property.

The council’s head of development and regeneration has delegated authority to sell property up to a value of £250,000 at market value.

Property over this limit would need committee approval. Only property owned by common good would require public consultation and Nairn Chapel of Rest is not a common good asset.

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