Businessman ordered to destroy extension after building into graveyard next door

Furious locals say Charles Ryan, 73, ‘desecrated many graves’ with the extension – but the former businessman claims the council knocked over the plots because they were ‘becoming unsafe’

Charles Ryan whose various building projects in the sleepy Durham village of Quebec in County Durham has caused caused uproar amongst the resident
Charles Ryan, 73, has been ordered to rebuild the graveyard wall

A former businessman has been ordered to tear down his garage conversion after he knocked down a graveyard wall to build the extension.

Charles Ryan, 73, brought down an 11ft stretch of dry stone wall outside St John the Baptist Church, in Quebec, County Durham, and extended his home alongside the gravestones.

Angry residents in the area say the move “desecrated many graves” – but Mr Ryan claims the council had already knocked over the plots because they were “becoming unsafe”.

Durham Constabulary is now investigating reports of damage to the wall and graves.

Mr Ryan, a former businessman, only applied for planning permission retrospectively, and has now been ordered by Durham County Council to destroy his extension and rebuild the cemetery wall by next summer.

Mr Ryan applied for planning permission retrospectively


North News & Pictures northn)

The estimated cost of both works is believed to be around £100,000, the Mail Online reports.

John Nicholson, from nearby Willington, complained about Mr Ryan’s extension to the council, claiming that his grandparents’ headstone had been left lying “face down in the ground” due to the building work.

He said: “I am writing to register my objection to the planning application of Mr Ryan who has already caused damage to the graveyard wall and desecrated many graves.

“One of which graves that has been damaged, is what we hoped was the final resting place of both my grandparents who had been laid to rest together in a grave close to the graveyard wall.

“Their headstone now lies face down in the ground following the building work that was carried out. It is hard to believe that anyone would be so disrespectful that they would demolish a graveyard wall and desecrate graves.”

One angry local claimed his grandparents’ headstone had been left face down on the ground


North News & Pictures northn)

John O’Connor, a neighbour of Mr Ryan, also sent a letter of objection to the council, in which he requested that the graveyard wall be rebuilt.

He wrote: “This extension to the dwelling house is completely out of character and its scale looks totally out of place to the historic graveyard wall it replaces.

“This building is unsightly, it is an eyesore from all angles, is of poor design and completely ruins the street scene when driving or walking up.

“The dwelling house is overbearing, the way this extension has encroached over the graveyard, and has the look of Mrs Bucket’s house from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

Geoff Paul, Durham County Council’s interim head of housing and development, noted that the retrospective planning application was refused because the development was “not sympathetic to the character and appearance of the area”.

The council said the extension had resulted in the ‘loss of the historic fabric of the stone boundary wall’


North News & Pictures northn)

He also said the extension had resulted in the “loss of the historic fabric of the stone boundary wall”, but made it clear Mr Ryan could appeal against the refusal decision.

Mr Ryan told the Mail Online he built the extension for “health and safety reasons” as he and his wife are in their 70s.

He continued: “We did have a staircase going around the side of the house with slippery metal steps which was becoming unsafe.

“Beforehand, you couldn’t even see the wall because it had overgrown trees and ivy around it. The council knocked the graves over, not me.

“They said in a newsletter they had to knock some of them down because they were becoming unsafe.”

Get all the latest news sent to your inbox. Sign up for the free Mirror newsletter

Mr Ryan said it was “frustrating” people hadn’t read the newsletter and claimed all of the gravestones had been “down at least 20 years”.

He said he had rebuilt the wall “enough times” while living next to the graveyard for 40 years.

He added: “I’ve sent the council an email asking if they want the wall rebuilt as it was because it was collapsed, it was a pile of rubbish.”

A spokesperson for Durham Constabulary said: “Police received a report of damage to a wall and graves at the graveyard of St John the Baptist Church on Front Street in Quebec.

“The report was made in September this year and the investigation is ongoing into the circumstances surrounding the damage.”

Read More

Read More

Related Posts

George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *