Campaigners ‘win’ fight to save graves

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All Saints Church, Childwall © Jonathon Wild

All Saints Church, Childwall © Jonathon Wild

Campaigners in a Liverpool village have for now won their battle to save the graves of their loved ones being exhumed or built over as part of their local church’s extension plans.

All Saints Church in Childwall have put proposals for a ‘rotunda’ extension to their Grade I-listed building on ice after controversy surrounded the possibility that construction work would affect 87 graves within their grounds.

The church issued a statement saying that they were not putting up the Public Notice about the extension, where interested parties could air their views, to concentrate rather on building a new church centre, located over the road from All Saints itself.

Planning permission for the extension was initially denied by Liverpool City Council in 2011, but the decision was later reversed by the Planning Inspectorate, based in Bristol.

The ‘Save Childwall Church’ group was set up over two years ago, with 12 committee members gathering petition support from over 200 people in the village since.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4hZtuBxJQs

As JMU Journalism reported in October 2012, Christine Walpole became part of the group after discovering that her mother-in-law’s grave faced exhumation to accommodate the extension, despite only being interred in 2008.

Mrs Walpole described to JMU Journalism how she was still ‘shell-shocked’ by the announcement, and said: “We have one old man in his 80’s who was just choked when he heard the news, he could hardly speak he was so emotional.

“There’s a lot of feeling in Childwall about this.”

Mrs Walpole did, however, sound a word of warning that their fight may not be over. She said: “We’re euphoric, but there is a big ‘but’, because it’s not abandonment, it’s more like postponement.

“They have just said that they’re not pursuing it at the moment. So we need to remain vigilant. We need to keep our ear to the ground. They never make a concrete statement, it’s always open to interpretation, just like this latest statement.”

The site where the extension could be built © Jonathon Wild

The site where the extension was planned © Jonathon Wild

Her sentiment was echoed by Ian Wilson, a member of the Save Childwall Church group on Facebook.

He wrote: “Excellent news. Trust this is the end of the matter. The planning permissions last until April 2014 so a close watch should be maintained on their activities… just in case.”

Maryanne Wood also wrote: “Good news at last, let’s hope they stick to it !!”

The church said that they came to the decision after a “considered and thorough debate” at a meeting of the Parochial Church Council (PCC) on Monday 4th February.

Their statement said: “The advice that we have received to date has been to work up the two in tandem.

“This advice we have followed. At this juncture, however, it seems appropriate to the PCC to separate them out for a period, in order to concentrate solely on the new Church Centre.

“The PCC has deliberately not set a timescale, and nor does it intend to, regarding when to take the development of the church to the next stage.”

About Sam McDonnell, JMU Journalism