Death knell for Mount Vernon's funeral parlours?

Death knell for Mount Vernon's funeral parlours?

A pall of uncertainty hangs over the funeral parlours at the Mount Vernon Columbarium Complex in Upper Aljunied Road, as their leases are ending soon and it is unclear if the two private operators can stay on.

Singapore Casket runs two parlours, Mount Vernon Parlour 1 and 2, whose leases are ending on Dec 20.

Mount Vernon Sanctuary has six halls to hold wakes, and its lease ends on March 14 next year.

The complex - which used to house the government-managed crematorium until it moved to Mandai in 2004 - is also home to more than 20,000 niches stored in the columbarium blocks.

The authorities told The Sunday Times that the funeral parlours will continue to be leased out, after the current leases end.

However, The Sunday Times understands that the authorities have not finalised whether to allow the current operators to extend their leases or call for a new tender.

The news eased concerns among funeral directors that the parlours would be torn down soon to make way for the upcoming Bidadari housing estate, resulting in a serious shortage of such facilities.

The area is earmarked for the new Bidadari estate, which will have about 10,000 Housing Board flats and 1,000 private homes, located on the former cemetery grounds.

However, the authorities said the complex will eventually be cleared to make way for Bidadari's development.

This will take place after the niches there have been moved to two other government-managed columbariums in Choa Chu Kang and Mandai.

However, a joint response from the National Environment Agency (NEA), Housing Board and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) did not say when this will happen.

The Sunday Times understands this may take some time, as the relocation of niches has not started yet. The NEA has also not made public announcements for families to claim the niches, and it will do so only two years before the niches are to be moved.

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