Three Lake Macquarie cemeteries are set to be added to the council heritage list as part of a conservation management plan adopted for nine local graveyards.
The management plan, which was adopted at Monday's council meeting, provides an assessment of the heritage significance of each of the sites and will provide guidance to manage the cemeteries in line with that.
The included sites are Belmont, Catherine Hill Bay, Johnston Family (Barnsley), Morisset, Martinsville Pioneer, Toronto, West Wallsend, Whitebridge and Wyee.
All sites except Belmont, Morisset and Wyee are included on Lake Macquarie's heritage list, while Catherine Hill Bay is also state heritage listed.
But the conservation management plan concluded that the three sites are of local significance and should be listed as local heritage items in the Lake Macquarie Local Environmental Plan.
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As part of the management plan, council will also engage with local and family history groups and interested individuals to establish 'friends of' groups to advance heritage research on interments.
Similar groups are already operating in West Wallsend and Belmont, and the council report said both demonstrated "the positive role recognition of cemeteries can play in both cemetery management and community development".
Other objectives include developing a heritage interpretation plan for each cemetery with related signage, sourcing funding to undertake conservation works to "significant" graves and older headstones, heritage awareness training for all cemetery workers and education to discourage the use of plastics in flowers and commemorative objects.
Council staff outlined that burials made up about 20 per cent of internments with the rest being ashes.
The report said Catherine Hill Bay, Whitebridge and Belmont cemeteries had "very limited" capacity for new burial sites, the latter two of which are now closed for reservations, but the rest of the included locations have an adequate amount of space which rules out the need to establish new cemeteries.
A submission during a recent exhibition period requested consideration for the plan to include Teralba Pioneer Cemetery, Quigley's Grave at Booragul and Frost's Rest at Cooranbong, but council said the plan is only specific to the nine council-managed graveyards.
Councillor Kevin Baker said while he was disappointed the plan did not include Teralba, the strategy was "fantastic" due to the historical significance of cemeteries.
"They tell the history of our areas," he said. "They tell the stories of the people who have come before us."
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