Plans for a new cemetery for High Wycombe have been slammed by residents as an “unwanted vanity project”.

It comes after Wycombe District Council (WDC) submitted plans for the cemetery in Queensway, Hazlemere, after unveiling the proposals to residents last October.

If approved, the new 3.9 hectare site would include a woodland walk, reflective pools, a columbaria (for the internment of ashes) an admin building and on-site parking for 32 cars.

The adjacent bridleway and footpath, and allotments, will remain.

A new cemetery for the town has been in the pipeline for years, as parts of the Hampden Road site are running out of space and were predicted to be full by this year in 2017, prompting Wycombe District Council to look for a new site in 2014.

The cost of the project has gone up from £1.2 million to £1.68 million, with the additional £475,000 coming from the High Wycombe Town Committee reserves.

But residents are worried the plans will cause parking issues and increased traffic, with Andrew Barrow saying: “Documents submitted in the latest Local Plan show the main cemetery at Hampden Road has the capacity to take burials for another 18 years in the area allocated for Anglicans alone.

“The two ancillary cemeteries at Walters Ash and Holtspur Top can take the other dead of High Wycombe for decades to come.

“This pointless proposal was included in the latest Local Plan. This is still under review and the inspector may reject the proposal.

“Why are WDC so keen to rush this through the planning process before March 6? Even if the work starts as early as 2020, it could take four to five years to complete.

“There must be more urgent projects on which WDC could spend £1.68 million and benefit the community now.

“Could it have something to do with unification scheme announced by James Brokenshire under which WDC will vanish and all the council’s assets, buildings and reserves will be transferred to the new unitary authority?

“Is this cemetery just a last hurrah from a council heading for the scrap heap of politics?

“It is clear that this proposal is an unwanted vanity project. The planning committee should reject the application and take steps to preserve this area for recreational purposes.”

Wycombe District Council spokesman Shauna Hichens said currently there are around 150 burials a year at Hampden Road – an average of just under three a week.

She said: “The current cemetery is running out of space for child and chambered burials.

“The new cemetery will mean High Wycombe people can be buried close to home and at lower cost than elsewhere.

“The search for a new cemetery started in March 2014, long before the current unitary proposals.”

A decision is expected to be made by March 5.