A row has broken out over plans to build houses near a burial ground.

Scapegoat Hill villager Glennis Lennon has pleaded with Scapegoat Hill Baptist Church not to sell two plots of land for four homes next to an existing graveyard at Taylor Lane.

She believes the plans, which have been submitted to Kirklees Council, will prevent people from being laid to rest in the village in future.

But church minister, the Rev Glenn Cannon, said the “useless” land had “never been designated for burials” and defended the potential sale as a way to improve community facilities.

The row broke out when Ms Lennon heard about the plans and launched a petition, which now has more than 140 signatures.

She said: “I believe the land was bought by the church for the intention of being a burial ground and should be kept for the community so people can be laid to rest in their own village.

“I started the petition to ask the church to keep it as that for future generations.

“I believe the land could be used for cremation plots or woodland burials, which would not take up much space or require much work.

Ms “I hope more people will become aware of what’s happening and encourage the church to rethink its decision.”

Scapegoat Hill Baptist Church.

Mr Cannon said claims the land was a potential burial space were “false.”

The church was first approached by developers to build on the land around five years ago.

He said: “The two pieces of land in question were bought separately to the burial ground by the church in the early 1900s.

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“There may have initially been plans to build a parsonage but it’s never been designated for burials, especially since the Fixby cemetery was built.

“The existing burial ground is the most inaccessible one in West Yorkshire so we wouldn’t remotely consider extending it onto the other pieces. They are useless to us.

“Because of the severe slope, our graves have to be vaulted, which costs people an extra £1,500.

“It’s also a massive job for the grave diggers because council diggers can’t get into the site, so everything is done by hand.

Glennis Lennon (front left) with Scapegoat Hill residents who have organised a petition objecting to building of houses on land adjacent to the burial ground of the Baptist Chapel in the village.

“What’s more, while we’ve always offered spaces for people in the village, we have no obligation to do so as the land is privately owned.

“People can exercise their right to be buried in their parish, which is Golcar, by applying to it.”

Mr Cannon recommended using the recently re-opened Pole Moor graveyard nearby.

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“It is much flatter there and it’s only one mile away,” he said. “It has 300 spaces, which is enough for the next 150 years.

“If the plans get permission, it will release capital for the church to either put a parsonage back in the village or to improve the existing church building and make it more accessible and useful for the community.

“A track would also be created if the houses were built, which would give diggers access into the top of the burial ground and make it easier for people to get up there.”