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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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A local church has been given planning permission to change

Resolved Question:

A local church has been given planning permission to change to a residential property. The problem is the church is surrounded by a graveyard and they wish to remove 17 gravestones close to the building in order to construct a driveway and garden over the top of the graves! This is consecrated ground! My close family, grandparents, parents and brother as well as many aunts, uncles and cousins are buried in this churchyard along with relatives of many other local people. Is this legal and is there anything we can do to stop the desecration of graves? We visit the graves of our families, not the gravestones! It would be immaterial to move the gravestones as a measure to please relatives! Several local people previously objected in 2011 when it was discovered, by chance, that someone had applied for planning permission. But I have now discovered that it has been granted and as far as I am aware, none of the people concerned have been contacted!I am trying to find out if there is a current action group to try to prevent this happening or a petition we can sign. I hope you can help us, Thank you - Mrs Pamela Short
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 3 years ago.

Alex Watts :

Hello Pamela my name is XXXXX XXXXX I will help you with this. Please note that I am a working Solicitor and may be on and offline as I have to attend Court and meet with clients, even at weekends. As such you may not get an instant response when you reply as this is not an ‘on demand’ live service, but rest assured I will be giving your question my immediate attention upon return. There is no need to wait here, you will get an email when I reply.

Alex Watts :

There is only one option available and that is to seek a Judicial Review.

Alex Watts :

If the church has gone through the planning process then the Local Authority would have considered the impact in removing the gravestones.

Alex Watts :

Can the LA do this - yes they can

Alex Watts :

I know of a scheme in Birmingham putting in the new Metro line that removed part of a graveyard.

Alex Watts :

You can only seek a Judicial Review which is where a senior Judge considers the decision by the Council and sees if they are reasonable and legal.

Alex Watts :

A judge can agree with the decision or remit it back for further consideration.

Alex Watts :

You would need a Solicitor for this type of matter as proceedings are issued in the High Court.

Alex Watts :

Legal aid may or may not be available due to recent cuts.

Alex Watts :

But this is the process you need to follow and you must have a Solicitor due to the strict rules

Alex Watts :

I am sorry if this is not necessarily the answer you want but I have a duty to be honest

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

Customer:

1. Surely the Local Authority would have a duty to contact previous objectors before proceeding?

Customer:

1. Surely the Local Authority would have a duty to contact previous objectors or even plot holders?

Customer:

2.If we went with your recommendation to seek a Judicial Review, what might be the cost implications if Legal Aid were not available.?

Customer:

3. Isn't there a moral obligation on the part of Local Authority Planning Department.,The Church in Wales and/or the proposed purchaser to inform the concerned public?

Customer:

Finally, I feel, along with other local people, that this is total reprehensible and sacriligious, this is after all consecrated ground for the burial of the dear departed, some of whom were war heroes. Surely this cannot be allowed?

Alex Watts :

Sorry for the delay.

Alex Watts :

1. No - that is nothing to do with the LA, it may be something the Church should do. But the notice for planning is published.

Alex Watts :

2. See above.

Alex Watts :

3. JR - yes there would be costs involved.

Alex Watts :

4. They may be a moral obligation, but that does not mean a legal obligation

Alex Watts :

I am very sorry but if the Church has gone through planning and it has been approved, legally your options are limited.

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything else for you?

Ash and other Law Specialists are ready to help you