BICESTER Cemetery is running out of graves, and the town council is still waiting for land to be made available 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.

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In October 2019, the council said it had around two years of grave space remaining before alternative measures will need to be considered.

The environment committee recommended that 16 trees were removed in the cemetery which would create around 21 grave spaces and give around six months additional time (depending on the death rate) for the council to find a new site.

But at a subsequent meeting of the full council, the environment committee were asked to look at this again.

Council leader councillor Richard Mould said: “The full council believed that although additional spaces would be required the trees should be removed only when absolutely necessary and this to be agreed by the environment committee when that need arises.

“To date no trees have been removed.”

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Land for a new burial site was included in the Cherwell Local Plan agreed in 2015, with 10 acres of land being reserved at the 6,000-home eco town in North West Bicester.

The Plan states: “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.

“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.”

The town council is working with Cherwell District Council to establish when this land will be available and will then submit a detailed planning application to the district council which will include the investigations required by the Environment Agency which have already been carried out.

Mr Mould added: “We all recognise the urgency in providing the new burial ground as suitable land around Bicester is very difficult to find.”

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

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

Ex-town councillor Debbie Pickford campaigned for a new site for more than 15 years.