Jul 06, 2021

“Unsuitable”: Residents up in arms over funeral home moving to popular suburb

Busy cafe inner city

A local resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, told HelloCare, “I don’t care about it [the funeral home].”

They added, “Death is part of life, but everyone else in Woollahra thinks it’s quite unsuitable. They’re really up in arms about it.”

A development application has been lodged with Woollahra Council on behalf of Gregory & Carr Funerals, revealing the home will include a viewing room and parking space at the back of the site for hearse parking. An art gallery formerly occupied the site.

The application states the primary use of the building will be “an office for a funeral home business … not a body holding or preparation facility”.

“There will be no storage, dressing or preparation of deceased persons at the site,” it states. 

“There would be occasional private viewings of the deceased at the premises for private viewings” which would only be conducted “on a sporadic basis” for up to 10 people for no longer than 30 minutes. 

“For viewing purposes, all deceased persons will be prepared and dressed prior to viewing, transported to site, then removed offsite after the viewing.” 

Local residents are also concerned about increased traffic congestion and a loss of parking in the area, which is already busy and parking is limited.

Some locals fear coffins might be visible from the street “which wouldn’t be nice for children to see.”

Claudio Simonella, owner of Cafe Nino which is located next door, told The Sydney Morning Herald that having a funeral home as his neighbour would have a “devastating impact” on his restaurant. 

A funeral home is “completely out of keeping” with the area’s character and amenity, he said.

Woollahra councillor Harriet Price told SMH she understood concerns the proposal would “detrimentally impact the unique character of the Woollahra village”.

The development application does not address how regulations about body storage, transportation and refrigeration would be met, Price added.

Gregory & Carr Funerals operator, David Walker, told SMH there is limited choice when it comes to funeral providers in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. 

“The cost of funerals can be expensive and we will be offering a number of low cost services to local residents.”

Do you think it’s appropriate for a funeral home to operate in a busy shopping and restaurant precinct popular with families and diners? Share your thoughts below. 

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