More than £400,000 has been set aside to urgently build a new cemetery for High Wycombe in Hazlemere as the current one faces running out of space within years.

Parts of the main cemetery in Hampden Road are expected to be full within two years, prompting Wycombe District Council to look for a new site in Queensway, Hazlemere.

The Snowdrop Garden, where babies, stillborn babies and young children are buried, will run out of space within 18 months to two years, while the area for Muslim burials is “time-limited” to around three years.

The council’s cabinet have now agreed to allocate £404,000 from their reserves for the first phase of the project, which has been deemed “very important” for the High Wycombe Town Committee and a “big step” for the town.

The first phase, which has been scheduled to start in 2017/18, will include gates and fencing, new hedges and planting and car park and lighting.

Chairman of the committee, Tony Green, said: “The cemetery that we have has obviously been the main cemetery for High Wycombe for many, many years since the church yard was filled.

“It is a big step to have a new one but a second is needed because the cemetery is literally running out of space.”

The £400,000 from the council’s balances will be spent on the groundwork which will take place over three years, with the child burial area being built first, followed by Muslim burials in phase two and then the rest of the cemetery.  

Despite being outside the town boundaries, Queensway was deemed to be “very suitable” for a new cemetery, however Hazlemere councillor, Ron Gaffney, raised concerns.

He said: “I have got more than a passing interest in this. I am delighted it has got this far on the agenda now, albeit not the Queensway tranquil park that I always wanted, but you can’t have everything in life.

“I support this fully although there seems to be no reference to Hazlemere at all in it. I think Hazlemere residents would like the assurance that they will have some say in this because they are going to be buried there as well.

“I know from my electorate that people are concerned that this is just going to be a town cemetery and I keep assuring them that it isn’t. But there doesn’t seem to be anything to substantiate this and I would like your assurance.”

Cllr Green confirmed that Hazlemere Parish Council has been consulted “all the way through” the plans but were not mentioned in the capital funding report because they were not asked to contribute to the costs.

He said: “It will be an asset of the town because it’s being paid for by us, but there will be an arrangement with Hazlemere as to the burials there and I am told those negotiations are yet to take place.

“We appreciate that Hazlemere hasn’t got a cemetery, however the general burial is the third phase and probably four or five years before that will be ready for burials.”