WORK on a £1million project to more than double the size of Pleasington Cemetery in Blackburn will start this winter.

The scheme, expected to take 12 months to complete, now needs the final planning conditions to be completed before contractors move in.

The cemetery off Tower Road is expected to be full within three years, and more space is needed for both Church of England and Muslim burials before the borough runs out of plots.

The start date was announced to Blackburn with Darwen Council Forum by environmental executive member Faryad Hussain.

Around 500 burials a year take place in two of the borough’s five cemeteries – 400 of them at Pleasington – which has 9,000 graves.

Blackburn with Darwen Council are now set to extend the site into four hectares of land at nearby Lower Fold, to provide up to 12,000 plots providing space for burials for between 15 and 30 years.

Seven potential sites were looked at, but the grazing land at Lower Fold was chosen as the most suitable because of the groundwater conditions and also because it is owned by the council.

Other options involved affecting nearby woodlands or private property.

After consultation with nearby residents living nearby were consulted an outline planning application is submitted and approved earlier this year.

The final detailed processes are now being completed.

Coun Hussain said of the 1million scheme: “The cemetery will run out of space in the next few years and extending Pleasington Cemetery using council-owned land, rather than build a new one elsewhere, is most cost-effective option.”

A council spokesperson said no graves would be disturbed by the work which was on a new piece of land.

The borough’s other burial site is Darwen Eastern Cemetery where there is still have capacity for a few years, though the council say this could also be extended if needed.