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How to Have a Memorial Bench in a Public Area

There are many people who love the idea of placing a memorial bench, but when someone has passed away it is a difficult project to tackle and many people don't know how to get permission to place one in the first place. This blog explains the steps you may need to take.

Rules and Regulations of Placing a Memorial Bench

Memorial benches are a gentle way of remembering someone who has passed. Many relatives and friends like the idea of the bench being in the person’s favourite spot such as their local park or by the seafront.

But how do you go about having a memorial bench installed? Is it costly? Who is responsible for installation and upkeep?

 

Different area, different rules

An important consideration when deciding on public memorial benches is to understand that different local authority councils, parish or town councils have different rules regarding memorial benches. These dictate:

  • where they can be
  • who installs them
  • who is responsible for their upkeep

What follows is a general guide of what to consider.

 

Do memorial benches need planning permission?

Yes, most public memorial benches will need to be approved by the local council, parish council or whichever public body is responsible or ‘keeper’ of the land on which you want to place the memorial bench.

Helpful information

Many local authorities have helpful factsheets on how to request or install a memorial bench in your chosen area. Go to the local authority website and type in ‘memorial bench’ into the search bar. You should find further information.

 

Do I buy my own memorial bench?

Some local authorities will supply a bench at a cost to you (some start at £500 upwards). Whilst other councils ask that you buy the bench yourself. This means you have more freedom as to the design of the seat.

When it comes to the style and material of bench, you will need to be prepared to buy a good quality, probably hardwood bench. These weather much better than softwood and metal benches.

 

What can I have inscribed on the bench?

Most councils will allow you to create your own inscription within ‘common decency’ guidelines. Some will allow a short verse or another message, along with the person’s name and any significant dates, if you want those included.

 

Do I supply the memorial bench plaque?

Some councils will ask you to supply the inscription on a plague whilst others offer an inscription service as part of the overall cost of the package.

 

Can the memorial bench be put in my chosen place?

Again, this varies from one local authority to another.

Most councils have a set number of benches they will accept for popular areas such as seafront locations and popular beauty spots. On their website, you may find a list of areas for which there are no vacancies for memorial benches. This may mean you will need to change your plans.

 

Who installs the memorial bench?

Memorial benches that will be installed in public space will need to be safe for use and as such, a local council will have health and safety obligations it needs to meet. Thus, installation needs to be done in a way that ensures the bench is safe to use.

In most cases, we find that local authorities will want to install the memorial bench themselves to ensure it meets their standards. They will charge you for this. The average cost, although this does vary, seems to be around £120 per bench.

It also depends on the surface to which the bench is being installed and fixed too. Fixing it to a concrete pathway or pavement flags will cost more due to the time taken and the different fixings required.

 

Who is responsible for the upkeep of the bench?

Most councils and local authorities will be responsible for the upkeep of memorial benches in public areas.

However, this doesn’t mean that you cannot keep the bench looking pristine. Before you varnish or paint it you will need to check with the council you can do this and what steps you need to take to ensure safety.

 

What about memorial benches on National Trust property and so on?

If you want the memorial bench on land owned by another public body or a private landowner, you will need to contact them for permission. You'll also need to find out if it is acceptable to have a bench in a certain location.

Memorial benches are popular for many reasons. But you want to do it right because councils will remove benches that don’t have the right permissions or are not fixed correctly.