PROPOSALS for a cemetery to serve the people of Dunbar beyond 2070 have been unveiled.

Plans are being weighed up by East Lothian Council, which would see 2,000 lairs, 700 ashes-only lairs and an area for woodland burial created at Newtonlees, east of the town.

The plans come as the number of lairs at Deer Park Cemetery, opposite where the proposed new burial ground would be sited, reaches a dangerously low figure.

According to documents included in the planning application, the new cemetery – named Newtonlees Cemetery – needs to “come on stream by September 2019 to maintain local burial provision supply”.

The design shows single rows for both cremated remains and coffin interment, with an area south-east of the 1.2-hectare site to be used as a natural burial ground.

The application notes: “The provision of additional burial space in Dunbar is in line with the council’s approved Burial Ground Strategy and this site is determined as required to meet both the immediate needs of Dunbar town but also serve to meet the needs of the wider cluster for communities where it is unlikely that discrete local burial provision can be delivered. It is anticipated that the proposed layout of Newtonlees Cemetery will meet requirements within the cluster for the next 50-70 years in line with the criteria of the Burial Ground Strategy.”

Deer Park Cemetery opened in 1953 and is expected, according to the council, to reach capacity by summer 2020.

There are a total of 1,300 lairs in the existing cemetery, which are expected to be full within the next 18-24 months.

Ward councillor Norman Hampshire is the chairman of the council’s planning committee and was unable to discuss the merits of the application because of his role on the committee.

However, he stressed the need for new burial spaces in the town.

Mr Hampshire said: “The existing cemetery has very limited space left and, unless the council finds an alternative cemetery within the town, people would have to be buried outwith Dunbar because there would be no space available within the community.

“I think it would upset very many people who have lived in Dunbar all their life who wish to see their loved ones buried within the community.

“Not being able to provide that opportunity would be very difficult for the council and families to deal with.”

The application, which members of the public can support or object to, is part of a larger site which was given the green light in 2017.

At that time, plans for more than 100 houses on land at Newtonlees Farm were approved, despite the area of land being outwith the sites identified at that stage by the council’s Local Development Plan and recommended for refusal by planning officers.

At that time, the vote was tied at 4-4, with Mr Hampshire given the casting vote.

Pippa Swan, chairwoman of the town’s community council, stressed the importance of new burial spaces being provided.

She said: “We recognise and support East Lothian Council’s aspiration to provide adequate burial provision for Dunbar going into the future.

“For me, personally, I find it disappointing that the cemetery provision appears to have been attached to a housing development that was not part of the Local Development Plan.”