According to information presented in the planning application there are 55 burial plots containing 313 deceased people at the burial ground at the once Swinton Unitarian Church on Swinton Hall Rd and presumably all if not most are Swintonians.
I have received information the last burial may have taken place in 1962 and the first may be 1855.
I have spoken to the Manchester District Association of the Unitarian Church who confirmed the Swinton Unitarian Church was damaged by a storm in 1984 which meant due to costs it could not be repaired and resulted in its demolition.
Greater manchester Archealogy Unit are aware of the burial plots but have so far raised no objections to their removal, as of today.
I can confirm there are WW veterans/fallen resting at this site but there is no confirmation out of the 313 how many of these are WW1 and/or WW II soldiers. I am still in the process of collecting information.
I have received further information that The Disused Burials grounds Act 1981 applies where relatives have a right to object if less than 50 years. They have no right to veto after 50 years.
It may be pure coincidence that the developer has waited until 2012 which would be 50 years after 1962 which means no veto can be implemented by any deceased relatives !
The Planning Officer informed me today there has to be a cut off which in law is 50 years. I wonder whether the developer has waited for the 50 years to expire before proceeding ?
When I spoke to the Manchester District Association of the Unitarian Church this morning I was informed and confirmed as fact the following :-
When the church was closed that land was sold to the Council which would have been Salford City Council as it was 1984/85 (Swinton Town Council existed up to 1974)and the burial ground was covenanted to prevent development.
The Association also informed me that the Council sold the land and over the years has transferred ownership several times. They confirmed they are aware of the planning application but they said the advise they have been given is that once the land was sold by the Council the covenant no longer applies and the law of the land does not prevent development.
I am assuming what was meant by this is The Disused Burial grounds Act 1981 ie 50 year rule.
However, my thinking is that this Act would protect the rights of deceased relatives whether the land was covenanted or not. This Burial Ground was covenanted.
When I spoke to the planning officer today at Salford Council he said he had NO idea the land was covenanted. Therefore, he had not even checked whether the covenant still applied despite any transfer of land over the decades.
Having been a Trustee of land I know land can be covenanted in many different ways which can last indefinately. I have not checked the detail contained within The Disused Burial Grounds Act which may supersede any covenant.
I have asked the planning officer as to whether he has actually established who is buried at these grounds and the exact date of the last burial here. He said he has not.
On checking the application papers today online, Appendix A which I believe is suppose to be a list of names etc of inscribed gravestones at the time when the burial ground became disused. This Appendix was left blank. The Planning Officer said this was a mistake.
He has agreed to provide me with this information. The Planning Officer has also said he will now get details of the last burials that took place there and I informed him that morally and in the Council's interests all endeavours must be made to contact any deceased relatives. They were not going to do this.
As he did not know about any covenant which may or may not be a deliberate ommission as a covenant can have a significant impact on how land is treated he has said he will look into this. I have said I will write to him to inform the Council officially that the land was covenanted to prevent development and they MUST hold that covenant as the land was originally sold to them.
It is now when I write on public record about this covenant in existence.
If it is correct there are 313 people resting here in 55 plots, it is clear to me that families, husbands, wives, daughters, sons, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters are buried together in family plots maybe. I do not know as yet. The Church itself told me WW1 veterans lay in peace at this site.
313 rest in peace and all if not most will be from Swinton, Clifton, Pendlebury, Worsley and the surrounding area.
I have informed the planning officer today that obviously the views of relatives is paramount and important but due to the age and significance of the site to the town, in my view, the people of the town should be allowed to decide or not as to whether the disturbance of over 300 of their townsfolk's resting place is a sacrifice they want to make, keeping in mind that many do not believe as Asda store is actually wanted in this vicinity.
As soon as I get further information I will let you know. Regards.