COLCHESTER cemetery is set to expand by six acres amid “critical pressure” on it to accommodate more Church of England burials.

Colchester Council, which runs the site in Mersea Road, has admitted burial space will run out within two years.

It is in the process of buying the plot of land next to the existing cemetery from the owners, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to enable an extension to take place.

A planning application has been submitted detailing the extension to the 57-acre site, to border Valentinus Crescent.

The extension will be able to accommodate thousands more plots and the project will cost around £125,000.

The move was welcomed by the Diocese of Chelmsford, the Church of England in Essex.

A spokesman said: “Extra burial space is needed and Colchester Council has been working to provide it for a long time.”

The extended cemetery will be accessed from the existing one, although pedestrians will be able to get to the site from Valentinus Crescent via two new gates.

New fencing with planting along the site’s boundary with Valentinus Crescent will be created, as well as parking for 20 cars within the plot itself.

The cemetery has separate lawn areas for different faiths and for those of no religion.

There is also a lawn area for the burial of military personnel and a Baby Burial Garden.

A Colchester Council spokesman said: “There is plenty of space left for burials in the Roman Catholic section, Muslim section, Jewish section, The Baby Burial Garden, the military section, the cremated remains section, the section for traditional memorials, and the section for non- conformist and other religions.

“Each of those has about ten to 15 years’ worth of space left.

“The critical pressure is on consecrated Church of England land, and that has only two years left in the existing cemetery at current rates of usage.

“We will need that amount of time to landscape the area, provide hard standing for funeral cars, map the graves, etc, in preparation for the first burials there.

“This additional space should accommodate several thousand plots, we hope to be able to accommodate a woodland burial area at the end of the plot, too, which will give families more choice. “ Since the cemetery opened in 1856, more than 64,000 burials have taken place there.

A decision on the plans is expected to be made by April 23.