Spitalfields Churchyard: Help defend inner city green space

by Spitalfields Open Space

Spitalfields Churchyard: Help defend inner city green space

by Spitalfields Open Space
Spitalfields Open Space
Case Owner
Formed in 2012 by residents and local organisations to protect the consecrated churchyard public open space, an integral part of Hawksmoor’s masterpiece, and Spitalfields’ central place.
3
days to go
£14,550
pledged of £35,000 stretch target from 115 pledges
Pledge now
Spitalfields Open Space
Case Owner
Formed in 2012 by residents and local organisations to protect the consecrated churchyard public open space, an integral part of Hawksmoor’s masterpiece, and Spitalfields’ central place.
Pledge now

This case is raising funds for its stretch target. Your pledge will be collected within the next 24-48 hours (and it only takes two minutes to pledge!)

We seek to prevent the unlawful closure to the public of Spitalfields churchyard, a rare piece of green public space, and to have an illegal building removed from it. 

We need your help to challenge unlawful closure of this vital public space. Please contribute and share this page with your friends and colleagues. 

The consecrated churchyard is integral to Hawksmoor’s 18C masterpiece, Christ Church Spitalfields, recently restored by £15 million of mostly public (not church) money. 

Spitalfields suffers an acute shortage of public open space and this churchyard is vital for residents and workers in this crowded, polluted, built-up inner city environment. 


Case Background

Spitalfields churchyard is a consecrated disused burial ground containing some 67,000 burials. 70% of the churchyard is statutory public open space, meaning that it is protected by law. The churchyard is the setting of Grade 1 listed Christ Church Spitalfields and integral to Hawksmoor's masterpiece. £15m of largely public (not church) money was recently spent on restoration for church and public use. 

The restoration of the churchyard public open space has been prevented by an unlawfully erected building on it cutting most of the area off from public use.

The church, the adjacent local authority grant-aided school, and local authority Tower Hamlets gave themselves permission and constructed an unlawful building in the middle of the churchyard, a protected public open space, next to the Grade 1 listed church. This despite hundreds of objections and formal legal pre-action notice.


Our Case

To build on this protected public open space was illegal under the Open Spaces Act 1906. Indeed, it was a criminal offence under the Disused Burial Grounds Act 1884. 

Central government education funds of £1.8 million granted expressly for extension and refurbishment of the school's Brick Lane premises which would have provided all necessary facilities, were used to erect this entirely new building for the church on land owned by the church.



Over half an acre, nearly 60% of protected public open space has been unlawfully expropriated. The setting of the recently restored Grade 1 listed church has been violated, as have the burials and vaults underneath the unlawful building.

The Open Space Parties challenged the church and local authority in the Consistory Court (equivalent to the High Court in church-related matters). The Court held that the building was unlawfully erected. Astonishingly, however, the church Court refused the application for the unlawful building to be removed essentially because it was said that church permission to allow it to stay could be granted by virtue of legislation post-dating the unlawful building.



The Court of Arches, the ecclesiastical appeal court, has granted the Open Space Parties permission to appeal, saying that there is “a real prospect of success”. The hearing is in October 2018. 

WHAT WE SEEK: a large school playground by sharing protected public open space during school hours, preserving the open space for the benefit of school and public alike.  School refurbished in accordance with its 2010 plans to provide all facilities:



How much are we raising and why? 

We are raising £10,000 to prepare our appeal and a further £70,000 to cover expert analysis, court and legal fees. 

Please help protect the heart & lungs of historic Spitalfields

The case has been supported by many individuals and local organisations. We trust that those who have already supported us will continue to do so and it is important to underline public support. 

Your pledge is needed, please, to protect the heart & lungs of historic Spitalfields.


Photo Credit: www.londonist.com 

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