AN architect and urban planner has claimed a growing trend towards natural burial grounds – which impose no headstones, chemicals or caskets – could be key to tackling Scotland’s looming shortage of urban cemeteries.

Bob Tait, of architects Format Building Design, made the call in a proposal for a test-case green burial ground on land next to Bonaly on the outskirts of Edinburgh that will go before councillors in the Scottish capital next week.

He said the plan would help address an "urgent need" for burial spaces for urban areas on an unused site without impacting the green belt setting.

Officials have recommended the plan for land which sits inside Pentland Hills Regional Park is refused amid concerns over its position in the landscape, potential impact on a nearby waterway and numbers of mourners parking at the burial ground.

The architect said there would be around one or two burials a month with an estimated average of 50 mourners at a time and that engineering works are under way to resolve potential water issues, and that there would be wildflower planting to create a meadow landscape.

He said: "It is intended to create a new burial ground in the field incorporating a small parking and drop off area.

"However, this will not be a traditional cemetery.

"There will be no headstones.

"It is intended to be a natural burial process with no harmful chemicals, caskets or other materials used in the process.

"There will be a formal gathering area, with seating and a decorative wall to provide some shelter for those attending services or visiting to pay their respects or just to meditate."

He added: "To summarise, there is an urgent need for further burial ground facilities in Edinburgh.

"The most appropriate location is at the edge of the city where there is good access.

"The main issue is that it is within a Special Landscape Area.

"It has however been clearly stated that here will be very limited impact due to the nature of the use and the lack of any significant building."

Edinburgh planning officials said the Bonaly bid "fails to demonstrate that the proposal will have a positive impact on the character and appearance of the Special Landscape Area, it has not been demonstrated that there is no significant adverse effect on the quality of the water environment, there is insufficient information submitted to enable a clear view to be formed of the transport impacts of the development".

There were 24 objections and 24 comments in support of the application which will be viewed by development management committee members on Wednesday.

A community group, the Colinton Amenity Association, raised concerns over transport saying that "in traffic and parking terms the location is not therefore appropriate for the intended use".

One support wrote: "I would welcome this ground becoming a burial plot, my religious preference is burial rather that cremation

"This seems an ideal site for this since there is a pylon running through it and it cant really be used for anything else."

The landowner could not be contacted for comment.

Edinburgh City Council said it has moved to tackle burial capacity concerns by launching a review of cemetery provision in and around the city over the next 20 years as pressure builds on urban burial provision.

One report suggested Glasgow could run out of burial space by 2025 but while available numbers of "lairs" was not immediately available a spokesman for Glasgow City Council said it is "not facing issues re burial capacity at present".

Natural burials vary in cost but generally range from between £1,000-£2,000, and green materials include willow, bamboo and cardboard.