Exeter Consistory Court: Calcutt Ch. December 1996
A petition was sought for the construction ol a building comprising toilets and a meeting room to accommodate a .creche, and Junior church which would be sited in the churchyard to the north of the church and linked to it bv a lobbv. Citation gave rise to widespread and sustained opposition. Initially the proposal had the unanimous support of the PCC but. once local opposition had been voiced, a further PCC meeting was held at which the voting was 11 in favour and 3 against, the chairman not voting. The D A C recommended the proposal and planning permission had been granted. English Heritage was opposed. The visual impact of the proposed building would not enhance the appearance of the church but this factor, alone, was not considered sufficient to justify refusing the petition. The Chancellor noted the similarity between this case and that which had been the subject of an appeal to the Court of Arches in St Michael and All Angels. Tettenhall Regis  Fam 44,  1 All ER 231the judgment of which was extensively cited. Having regard to the absence of adequate facilities at the church itself but noting the existence of alternatives in civic and private buildings nearby, the Chancellor was satisfied that the test o f 'necessity* was made Out although he 'did not believe [ i t ] . . . to be as deep as it might be in other comparable cases'. However, there was genuine and deep-felt unhappiness about the disturbance of remains (estimated in the order of fifty) and the resiting of memorials. The Chancellor concluded that the balance came down against the proposals and dismissed the petition accordingly. Since the issues were perfectly clear and probably more intelligible in written form the Chancellor had earlier concluded that he would have learned no more of the case by a hearing in open court. It would have been a costly operation and would only have exacerbated the bitter conflict within the parish. For these reasons.'whilst noting the Court of Arches' comments in Tettenhall Regis that in general a hearing in open court will be useful and necessary in this type of case, he exercised his discretion on the special facts of this case in favour of a determination simply on written representations.
(1997) 4 Ecc LJ 767-768