A man whose wife died seven years ago has objected to plans to build a house on her grave, and said he was given assurances from the church he could be buried alongside her.
Plans to redevelop both Colwell and Wellow Baptist Churches could see the latter replaced by two semi-detached houses.
A further disused property, next to Colwell Baptist Church, would also be knocked down and three houses built in its place.
However, 46 objections have been raised to the plans, including by residents who have relatives buried at Wellow.
First IW Baptist church
The plans have been submitted by Colwell Baptist Church, which says the Wellow building — the first baptist church to be built on the Island in 1815 —has not been used in two years.
The profit from the sale of the new housing would go towards redeveloping the church building at Colwell. Colwell Baptist minister Dave Burton said the chapel was in need to urgent structural repair and renovation.
Must comply with burial grounds act
Rev Burton said the church was taking concerns raised seriously.
“Understandably, there are many legal restrictions around what can and can’t be built over, or near to, a private burial ground and the project would, obviously, have to comply with all these restrictions if it were to proceed.”
Under the disused burial grounds act, a building can only be erected on a graveyard as long as there are no objections from the relatives of anyone buried there in the last 50 years.
Promised burial next to wife
Tony Daniell, who now lives on the mainland, said:
“My late wife, Winifred Daniell, died on 18th January 2012, and was interred in grave 195 on 17th March that year.
“In addition, I have a letter from Wellow Baptist Church confirming I can also be buried in grave 195.”
Mr Daniell, who now lives on the mainland, is not the only relative who has been promised he could be buried with a loved-one.
Nan buried in 2010
Susan Aggio, from Newport, said:
“My nan, Sylvia Fitzgerald, was buried here in 2010 and my granddad has a letter giving him permission to be buried with her. This is already causing the family upset — my granddad especially.
“I feel very sad that this is even being considered due to the amount of pain it is causing, and will continue to cause.”
Wilcox: “It’s appalling”
Colin Wilcox, from Brighstone, discovered he had family buried at the church after researching his family history. The graves are of his great aunts and uncles, buried between 1932 and 1964.
“I think it’s appalling really, that they want to build houses here.
“These are my relatives.”
Rev: Invite people to email me
Rev Burton said:
“The development company involved in the project are no strangers to the complexity of church renovations and we are confident that agreeable responses to the concerns of the relatives of those interred at Wellow could be reached.
“To request a form to register an interest in a particular grave (or graves), I would invite people to email me.”
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some alterations and additions may be been made by OnTheWight. Ed