The reverend of a Kimberley church has looked to ease concerns of residents who fear tombs in the site’s cemetery could be in grave danger.
Gordon Barksby, of Eastwood Road, has hit out at plans by the Holy Trinity Church to sell off part of the churchyard to make way for two homes, believing it could lead to the destruction of some graves in the cemetery.
He says Holy Trinity Church’s ambition to “make some extra cash” by selling off part of the Eastwood Road churchyard is “shortsighted”, questioning whether the church’s suggestion that “no graves will be affected” is true.
He also thinks it is being done “discreetly” and has “slipped under the cracks”, suggesting more people should be aware about the plans - especially if they have relatives in the graveyard.
Mr Barksby, who is also a long-time churchgoer at the site, said: “This has all come about because the church spent too much money on its recent refurbishment, but not in the right ways.
“And it has all carefully slipped under the cracks.
“People deserve to know that the graveyard is to be sold off for a building site, and that houses could be built on the site of old graves.
“I think it’s quite wrong and we should notify people, especially relatives of people in that area who may have relatives buried there.
“And it’s not just for the public but for the people who buy the houses. Who wants to go into their back garden and find a body buried deep beneath the grass?”
But the church’s reverend, Barbara Holbrook, has assured churchgoers that no graves will be destroyed or moved during the plans, and that the housing development will be built on the plot of land near the soon-to-be-demolished church hall kitchen.
She added that the church’s plans for the housing are part of an initiative set up when the church was built in 1957.
She said: “We went through a lengthy consultation period where people could air their concerns, and nobody responded to our surveys.
“We displayed notices on the church door for three Sundays, and all processes we needed to do, we did.
“No graves will be affected as there are no graves on that part of the yard. The only part that is being sold off is a small patch of land close to the kitchen of the church hall.
“And the churchyard closed in 1913 when the last person was buried there - in my years I’ve not seen anyone looking after the graves.”