PLANS to invest £5m to improve Darlington Crematorium are recommended for approval by councillors tomorrow.

Members of Darlington Borough Council's cabinet will discuss three options to update services at the site on Carmel Road North with the officers recommending the authority replaces equipment and build a new chapel in West Cemetery.

A review of the facilities was started in 2010 when a feasibility study was carried out while the local authority has been working with Rose Project Management to deliver the scheme.

Councillors are being encouraged to approve the scheme as any potential closure of services due to failure could cost the authority £100,00 a month in lost revenue.

Councillor Paul Howell, Cabinet member for Leisure and Local Environment, said: “We are recommending that, at the same time as carrying out the much needed work to install modern, efficient and more environmentally friendly equipment, we take the opportunity to modernise the service. Not to do so would be a missed opportunity.

“The replacement of the equipment would mean major disruption and changes to the existing building so it’s only right that we look at the same time to modernise the overall service.”

In addition to the new chapel it is proposed to create a through-road to Pond Field Close, then exiting onto Salutation Road. This would allow a one-way system to be introduced, minimising the issues currently caused by parking and traffic flow through the cemetery.

Darlington has had a crematorium since 1901 and was one of the first places in the country to have such a facility.

If councillors agree to go ahead with the preferred option identified in the report, work could begin as early as April next year and be completed by March 2021.

The proposed improvements will be subject to planning permission, and residents will have an opportunity to comment on the proposals.

Cabinet meets at the town hall at 5pm tomorrow.