Plans to create a new burial ground to ease a chronic shortage of space are set to be delayed again.

The new site is planned for Jane Murray Way, in Burgess Hill, but a row has erupted over the kind of gravestones the bereaved will be able to have to remember their loved ones by.

Just before Christmas Mid Sussex District Council refused to allow Burgess Hill Town Council to have headstones of any kind because councillors wanted to keep the area as natural as possible.

The site is in an area known as the Green Crescent, which is a strip of land where no development is allowed to take place. The district council allowed the site to go there but want to keep it low key.

Although the proposed burial ground, which is owned by the town council and could be used for burials of any religion, would be hidden from residential properties the district council wants only flat gravestones. Now the town council is deciding whether or not to appeal.

Gill Balsdon, chairman of the town council planning and transport committee, said: "It was a planning condition on the original planning permission that the gravestones should be flat and we recently put in for the removal of that condition so we could have ordinary gravestones. It was actually recommended for approval but the councillors have decided to refuse.

"We have now got to decide what is the next move. It is likely we will appeal.

"One of the things we wanted to encourage was woodland burials like planting trees and shrubs instead of gravestones.

"But we have done a lot of research looking at places like Ardingly which is pretty rural and they have standard gravestones. In our opinion it is nicer for people to have somewhere to put flowers.

"It is what people are telling us they want. It's going to be the burial ground of the town council because church yards are running out of space."

Coun Balsdon said they would not be allowing any big ornaments or statues but hoped they would be allowed to have something neat to mark the graves.

She said: "We have been to two lawn cemeteries and all you can see is the scattering of flowers and it looks like someone has left their rubbish in a field."

The town council will decide whether to appeal at a meeting of the planning and transport committee on January 7 at 7pm, in the council chamber, 96 Church Walk, Burgess Hill.