Re: St. Lawrence, Skellingthorpe (Lincoln Consistory Court; Goodman Ch. 29 March 1988)
The Rector and Churchwardens sought a faculty for major works to the parish church, including the building of a substantial extension on the south side of the nave, the removal of a temporary roof (installed after a fire in 1916) and bulky pillars supporting it, the replacement of pine pews by chairs, and the provision of a communion table against the north wall of the nave. The extension, which would be built over existing graves, was intended as hall accommodation; it could also enlarge the worship area. The petition was opposed on the grounds that the scheme was too radical, additional accommodation was unneccessary and graves would be affected. The church was a Grade 2 listed building but of no particular architectural interest. The Chancellor stated that the onus lay upon the petitioners to satisfy him that the faculty should be granted. He had to pay special regard to the desirability of preserving the church and its setting. Regard was also to be had to the guidelines in Re: St. Mary's Banbury (1987), 1 All E.R. 247 as qualified in Re: St. Stephen Walbrook (1987) 2 All E.R. 578, the Chancellor preferring the approach adopted in the latter case. An extension to a church built on consecrated ground had to be treated differently, in relation to the activities carried on there, as compared with a church hall built on unconsecrated ground;
accordingly it was appropriate to obtain from the petitioners and the P.C.C. undertakings limiting the use to which the accommodation could be put. On the evidence the needs of the worshipping community, both present and future, justified the granting of a faculty. These needs outweighed the objections to the proposals. The floor slab supported by piled foundations was unlikely to disturb graves, but directions were given concerning the re-siting of headstones and any necessary re-interment of remains in consultation with the parties opponent. There was also a direction that the drainage was to avoid known graves.
(1989) 1:4 Ecc LJ 5