BICESTER Cemetery is running out of graves, but the town council has found a way to provide more while it looks for land to build a new site.

The existing cemetery at Old Place Yard has about 4,475 burial and cremation plots in total but has almost reached its full capacity.

It has approximately two years of grave space remaining before alternative measures will need to be considered.

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After looking at all the options for a current solution, the council proposed removing trees on the site to allow more space for graves.

Put forward at the Environment Committee meeting on Monday, the recommendation to remove 16 trees in the cemetery was approved.

Last year, lead developers at Bicester’s eco town, A2Dominion, said an agreement was in place to provide land in the eco town for a burial ground free of charge to the council.

However, this agreement is no longer held as another developer may use the land.

Bicester Advertiser:

Simon Potts, A2Dominion’s director of strategic land and projects, said: “Another developer has taken an interest in the land containing the cemetery proposed within the NW Bicester masterplan.

“We continue to have land interests at NW Bicester, that we are looking to develop at some point in the future.”

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Chris Johnson, operations manager at Bicester Town Council, said: “The council has desperately been looking to source another area but we have been unsuccessful to confirm any sites yet.”

In the meantime, around 21 grave spaces - which would be single depth - would be gained by the removal of the trees and give around six months additional time (depending on the death rate) for the council to find a new site.

Bicester Cemetery expanded in 2010 when its site boundary was increased further into Pingle Field Recreational Ground.

The trees that have been earmarked to be cut down - which are owned by the town council and have no preservation orders - are in this ‘new section’ of the cemetery.

An amendment to replace the trees that will be removed by planting new trees in a 'suitable location' in the town, was also approved by the council.

Although A2Dominion is no longer providing land for a site, developer contributions will be sought from new development in the town towards the establishment of the new cemetery.

In Cherwell District Council's Local Plan, it states that a 'site of approximately four hectares is required to accommodate a cemetery and area for green burial'.

It says: "We will continue to work with Bicester Town Council to identify and secure a suitable site as part of strategic development at Bicester, to enable delivery of new burial facilities for the town at the earliest opportunity.

Bicester Advertiser:

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"Potential land will be surveyed to confirm initial findings on the suitability of ground conditions and inform the decision on where these new burial facilities should be located."

As it stands, no live planning applications regarding cemeteries have been reported to Cherwell.

With time running out, councillors have previously raised the possibility of buying back reserved plots however this has not currently been discussed.

Ex-town councillor, Debbie Pickford, who campaigned for a new site for more than 15 years, refused to comment on the matter.