New plans to build on disused graveyard could be submitted
PUBLISHED: 18:16 26 September 2018 | UPDATED: 18:16 26 September 2018
The owners of a former burial ground could revive plans to build on the land despite bodies remaining in the ground.
A new archaeological survey was recently undertaken at the disused 19th century Baptist burial ground on Croft Lane in Diss where permission was previously granted to build a bungalow and garage.
South Norfolk Council first approved plans to build on the site a decade ago with the time limit for permission subsequently being extended.
The land, believed to be associated with a now-demolished chapel, was sold later by Diss Baptist Church with planning permission to build following extensive research of the graves including ground penetrating radar examining what was beneath the surface.
Headstones from the site were removed to the present Baptist church in Denmark Street in 2015 with names and dates sent to Norfolk Records Office and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, as well as being recorded in the church archives.
Jonathan Armstrong, Pastor at Diss Baptist Church, said: “It was a very lengthy and complicated procedure. The headstones were removed and they are in the garden by the church at the moment.
“The ground radar was done and there were archaeological digs. Nothing was removed from beneath ground. The bodies were never removed.
“We never wanted to develop the site ourselves, that was never the plan, but we did look at what the options might be for people who might buy the land.”
The site’s current owners Andy and Suzanne Robinson said recent work had been carried out under licence by qualified archaeologists and that no bodies had been exhumed.
Mrs Robinson said: “We have owned the site for about five years having bought it from the Baptist church with active planning permission already in place. That has now run out.
“We have had archaeologists on site to do a study and we are waiting for their report before we decide whether to proceed and submit a new planning application.”
Strict rules apply to the exhumation of bodies and the reuse of graves under burial ground legislation overseen by the Ministry of Justice.
Previous plans would have seen the new bungalow built on foundation pilings to minimise disruption to graves in the ground beneath.
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