A DETAILED planning application has been submitted to build a new cemetery in Prestonpans – and ensure people can still be buried in their local community.

The application for the development of public burial ground refers to a plot of land just south of the B1361, opposite the west end of the Royal Musselburgh Golf Course, bordering the new Preston Square Barratt houses.

The 16,948 square metre plot is technically classed as agricultural land, though the site has not been actively farmed in two years as it was used as temporary storage for excess soil when the neighbouring housing estate was being built.

There have been concerns for several years that the existing Prestonpans Cemetery is almost at capacity.

A spokesperson for East Lothian Council said: “We adopted our Burial Ground Strategy in 2015 and the underlying principle within that strategy is to provide local burial space for local communities wherever practicably possible.

“The current facility at Cemetery Road serves the majority of burial needs for the Preston, Seton and Gosford cluster and is reaching the end of its operational capacity.

“Accordingly, and in line with the adopted strategy, a new facility is required.

“Identifying land that is suitable for use as a burial ground is extremely challenging as there are a number of geographical, physical, archaeological and financial considerations that have to be met.

“The site now being developed at Dolphinstone meets all of those criteria and will provide much-needed burial space for the community for the next 50 to 70 years.”

The planning application will also include a road leading into the cemetery from the main road and space for 16 parking spaces.

The council, which will be building it and operating it, has already consulted with SEPA to mitigate any contamination of ground water.

Brian Weddell, chairman of Prestonpans Community Council, said: “The community council was informed last year that it was East Lothian Council’s intention to build a new cemetery at this site and we welcome this being formally intimated by the council’s planners. This gives everyone an opportunity of commenting on this proposal.”

Ward councillor Lachlan Bruce said: “Prestonpans needs a new cemetery and it is good we are seeing movement towards getting more cemetery capacity.

“I think the location joining it on with a new housing development makes sense as it allows the land to become available. I believe that the current cemetery is starting to near capacity so it is important that we see the new cemetery open soon.”

Fellow ward councillor Fiona O’Donnell added: “As the community grows, we need to plan for more burial capacity in Prestonpans.

“There are still people who want to be buried following their death, and I know that being laid to rest in the place you love is really important to people.”