Protesters call for ‘restoration not renovation’ as council approves the Kimberley cemetery chapel scheme

Renovation plans Cllr Jim McDonald  at Kimberley cemetary chapel
Renovation plans Cllr Jim McDonald at Kimberley cemetary chapel

Furious residents have launched a petition to ‘save’ Kimberley’s cemetery chapel after the town council voted to spend £40,000 turning it into a social hub.

In just four days, almost 200 people have signed the petition calling for ‘restoration not renovation’ of the chapel as the plans which were approved at an extraordinary meeting last Thursday (December 18) could see some major changes to the building including the addition of a kitchenette and a toilet.

Protesters believe the chapel should be restored to its former glory but that it should remain a chapel of rest reserved for weddings, funerals and christenings, rather than being transformed into a multi-purpose building which they say the community does not want.

Kimberley town councillor Kat Boettge, who launched the petition, explained that the renovation would compromise the chapel’s architecture and charm as all the original features, including the pews and the 130-year-old floor tiles, would be removed.

She said: “We are asking the town council to scrap this proposal and to restore the chapel to enable the community to use it for weddings, civil ceremonies, funerals and namings.

“The floor, heating and lightening need to be done and if a toilet is deemed necessary, one could be located next to the cemetery entrance on the top of the hill, which then could be connected to the sewage system.

“Although the council had consulted the public on what they wanted the chapel to become, the public was not consulted on this specific proposal.”