PLANS to build a £2million care home on the site of an arson-struck former church have been approved, despite fears workers could encounter human remains.
St Nicholas Church, in Hetton, was devastated after arsonists stuck in 2006, leaving it in a dangerous structural condition. It has now been demolished to make the site safe.
The Hetton, Houghton and Washington development control sub-committee has now granted planning consent, subject to conditions, for Brett Bros Developments Ltd to build a 30-unit elderly and mentally infirm (EMI) care facility, which could bring 20 new jobs.
The development also includes part of the church yard and, according to representations made by the county archaeologist, there is the “potential for graves and buried remains to exist” on the site.
“Assuming the graves filled the whole churchyard, human remains could be encountered when services are installed,” a report added, and also recommended having plans in place to relocate any bones that may be found.
The church was built in 1901, but it had been out of service for a number of years before the fire.