One Chronicle Country town could run out of burial space by 2020 if a new extension cannot be opened on time.
Sandy Town Council – which now makes plots available for immediate burial only – hopes to open the extension to the town’s existing cemetery by 2015.
But this would be the earliest year that the extension could open and the town’s St. Swithun’s Parish Churchyard is now unavailable for burials.
Delia Shephard, clerk at Sandy Town Council, said: “We do have a capacity issue and the parish churchyard is full and is now closed.
“Several years ago Sandy Town Council took the decision that they would not allow pre-purchase of burial plots in our cemetery which was opened in 1891 because it was reaching the end of its capacity.
“We now make plots available for immediate burial only.”
The council hopes that the new extension will help to satisfy the demand for burial space in the town.
Mrs Shephard added: “Next month our ‘temporary’ allotment site which is on land next to our cemetery will be closed.
“The town council plans to convert this piece of land – which was originally purchased for burial use – into an extension of the existing cemetery.”
But the process still has some way to go.
Mrs Shephard said: “We still have a number of hoops to go through including the planning process and even if everything goes exactly according to plan we will not be able to start burials until 2015 at the earliest.”
The situation mirrors that of many other parts of the country where local authorities are struggling to cope with demand for burials.
A BBC survey has shown that almost half of England’s cemeteries could run out of space within the next 20 years – and that a quarter of local authorities who responded will have no more room for burials within a decade.
In Chronicle Country responsibility for burial grounds has been devolved to town and parish councils by Central Beds Council.
Not every part of the area is experiencing problems with a shortage of space though.
Biggleswade Town Council clerk Rob McGregor confirmed that at current levels the council will be able to continue burials for another 112 years.
There are also no reported problems with space affecting Campton & Shefford Cemetery.