A COUPLE who own and maintain an historic graveyard as a green space for Mobberley residents have threatened to discontinue their efforts over a planning dispute.

Keith and Liz Trafford bought the Quaker Burial Ground adjacent to their home on Graveyard Lane two years ago and turned it into a public amenity, including making pathways and installing a barbeque bench, at a cost of around £30,000.

However, the couple have announced they will stop maintaining the space since planners at Cheshire East Council rejected their application to build a double garage on land they own bordering the graveyard.

The Traffords were especially upset when Mobberley Parish Council, which has influence over Cheshire East planning decisions in the area, raised objections the couple believe are unfounded.

Knutsford Guardian: The wall around the graveyard is grade-II listedThe wall around the graveyard is grade-II listed (Image: Newsquest)

Mr and Mrs Trafford have now resubmitted their plans after addressing the planning concerns, at considerable cost to themselves, but Keith say he is ‘astonished’ by the parish council’s attitude, adding: “They’re being totally unreasonable.”

The 75-year-old said: “The graveyard had been abandoned for such a long time until we bought it two years ago. It was so wild you couldn’t even get in it.

“We’ve managed to level it, remove the brambles, and paid tree surgeons to remove several large dead trees. We’ve also put a bench in there for people to use.

Knutsford Guardian: The Traffords say without their maintenance, the graveyard will quickly become overgrown and unusableThe Traffords say without their maintenance, the graveyard will quickly become overgrown and unusable (Image: Newsquest)

“Mobberley Parish Council are recommending very strongly to Cheshire East the planning request for our garage is refused.

“Under the current proposal, the garage would be five metres from the graveyard on a completely separate piece of land, and our building works would have no impact whatsoever.

“They’ve accused us of all sorts of things. They’ve said we had a digger in the graveyard and damaged the listed wall, and that we’ve been cutting down trees that might’ve had protection orders on them. It’s all complete nonsense.

“For some reason, the parish council seems to object to everything we ever do.”

“We could withdraw public access to the graveyard, but we won’t.

“We’ve had eight letters of support from local people, including two from the Quakers. They want to start holding meetings in the graveyard.”

Knutsford Guardian: Some of the graves date back the 17th centurySome of the graves date back the 17th century (Image: Newsquest)

Mobberley Parish Council say they’re grateful for the couple’s efforts in maintaining the graveyard, but as a body, they have a responsibility to protect the countryside from over-development.

A spokesman for the parish council said: “We appreciate the great care Mr and Mrs Trafford take of the Quaker Burial Ground.

“Since they purchased the Quaker Burial Ground they have cleared the site and exposed the Grade II listed walls allowing them to be appreciated once again by people using the public footpath next to the Burial Ground. 

“Since purchasing the property on Graveyard Lane, Mr and Mrs Trafford converted a previous garage/outbuilding into a separate property, which was approved by Cheshire East Council along with a garage for the property which have since been sold as a separate dwelling. 

“Mobberley Parish Council were concerned about over development of the area, along with visual impacts, and did object to the recent application for another garage.

“Our concerns were echoed by Cheshire East Council who also refused the planning application."

Cheshire East councillor, Hannah Moss, who the Traffords have consulted, said: “I have spoken with Mr and Mrs Trafford at one of my recent surgeries.

I listened to their concerns and took away questions which I raised with the planning officers at Cheshire East Council.

“I have since fed back comments and will continue to field questions should any more be raised.

“I also did encourage Mr and Mrs Trafford to continue maintaining the Quaker Burial Ground they own and not let it go back into disarray in retaliation to planning issue on other land they own adjacent to the Quaker Burial Ground.”

You can view the planning application on the Cheshire East planning portal, by searching reference 22/1534M.