Ecclesiastical Law Association

Ecclesiastical Law Association

Judgments: Churchyards

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The petition related to improvements to the entrance and pathways to the church. This involved removal of a large number of old memorials which had been laid as paving during the 1900s. These memorials were inclined to be slippery underfoot when wet, giving rise to health and safety concerns. The Chancellor granted a faculty, subject to a condition that within nine months a report should be submitted concerning progress on the work and as to the most appropriate way to deal with the old memorials removed from the pathways.

Faculty granted for improvements to the site of the former parish church, which includes the site of the town's war memorial.

The London Borough of Southwark presented two faculty petitions containing landscaping proposals for consecrated areas of the Camberwell Old Cemetery and the Camberwell New Cemetery respectively. 660 people submitted objections in writing and a further 318 people objected by email. Three of the objectors became parties opponent, but later withdrew as formal objectors. The proposals were designed to provide additional burial space. The Chancellor was satisfied with the proposals and granted a faculty.

Note: The attached judgment, dated 12 March 2017, is the final version. A draft was previously available on this web site and on another site. If you downloaded the draft version, please delete it and download the attached version.

In 1970, a recreation centre for children had been erected on part of the consecrated churchyard, adjacent to the Church of England School. In 2012 the Chancellor had granted a faculty for the demolition of the 1970 building and the erection of a new school and community building in its place. There was no party opponent to the application. In 2014 an application was made by Spitalfields Open Space Ltd. for a restitution order requiring the new building to be demolished, as it had been erected unlawfully on consecrated ground. The Chancellor dismissed the application. There was an application for an appeal to the Court of Arches. The Rector subsequently applied for a confirmatory faculty. The The Court of Arches remitted the application for a restitution order for determination by a Deputy Chancellor, who granted a confirmatory faculty for the building.

There were to petitions. The first related to the construction of a new church hall linked to the south porch; removal of internal draught lobby; external lighting; tree felling, landscaping and signage. The second sought the necessary authorisation for the Petitioners (the Incumbent and Churchwardens) to enter into a contract with the Diocese of Southwark for the transfer of a small piece of land to the south west of the church building which was required for part of the proposed new structure. The Victorian Society objected to the new hall being constructed so close to the Grade II church, but was not a party opponent. The Deputy Chancellor determined that a Faculty should be granted.

The proposals were for a major re-ordering of the churchyard, which included the removal of a section of the 19th century churchyard wall included in the Grade I listing of the church, the creation of a piazza with seating and a new parking area. The reason for the proposed removal of a section of the wall was to open the church up to the adjoining public square, so as to allow for greater community use of the square and churchyard. The Victorian Society objected strongly to the removal of the wall, but did not wish to be a party opponent. Looking at the wider context of a growing church and a developing and culturally growing city, the Chancellor determined that the significant potential benefits of the scheme to the church and community would outweigh the moderate loss which would be caused by the development.

Faculty granted for the erection of metal railings surmounted by Raptor anti-scaling barrier on the north and west sides of the churchyard, as a security measure to prevent further lead thefts.

The churchwardens and fabric officer of the church petitioned for a confirmatory faculty in relation to works of refurbishment to the area for cremated remains in the churchyard, which was surrounded by stone flags. Over a period prior to the summer of 2015 there had been complaints about the untidiness of the area and nine further interments of ashes had taken place outside the area, which had become full. The PCC, without a faculty, extended the area from 32 plots to 106 plots, replaced the turf with gravel, and constructed a low wall surmounted with stone around the enlarged plot. Following the discovery of the works by the Archdeacon, an application was made for a confirmatory faculty. The Chancellor was very concerned about the works, both from an aesthetic point of view and more importantly because of potential future maintenance issues. She granted a faculty for a limited period of 10 years, after which the situation should be reviewed.

The parish council decided to make a donation for the laying of cabling in the churchyard for external lighting to the church, and an external power point for Christmas lights. The work was carried out without faculty by an electrician who was a member of the parish council and also a member of the PCC. The petition sought an order in respect of the unauthorised laying of the cable. In his judgment, the Chancellor emphasises the need for observance of the faculty jurisdiction, in view of such matters as the risk of disturbance of human remains; the need to give parishioners an opportunity of objecting; the need for planning permission; and insurance and safety issues.