Descendants of people buried in a small chapel's graveyard have been left horrified after some gravestones were removed to make way for a car park driveway.

Powys County Council granted Newtown-based Dolafon Gospel Hall Trust permission in June 2022 to build a car park and driveway at Bethany Chapel in Hodley, near Kerry, which closed in the early 2000s.

The plans to change the use of agricultural land to the east of the chapel were given the green light despite concerns about the proposal from Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust and Powys County Council's Highways Department and Built Heritage Officer.

Dolafon Gospel Hall Trust said it is committed to working with the community to make sure any necessary restorations to the grounds are undertaken "with the utmost compassion and respect".


But the work has left some people angry, as they claim that relatives of those who were buried in graves affected by the work were not informed about the changes, and say the location of the removed headstones are currently unknown to family members.

Hailey Bowles, who has relatives buried in the graveyard, said she and her siblings said her father and aunts have been left devastated by the development.

"It seems so wrong that it’s been turned into a carpark and our relatives are there," she said. "It doesn’t sit right at all.

"I was absolutely shocked and not often I’m lost for words. I didn’t know whether to cry or shout. But I was speechless when I saw it. It was shocking. From a place I loved as a child. It was like it was vandalised.

"We feel it’s rubbed salt into the wound that a religious group has done it. I feel it’s so disrespectful.

"I’m sure a lot of people in Kerry don’t know what is going on. People have been horrified and asked how this could have happened."

Relatives contacted Plaid Cymru Councillor Elwyn Vaughan in an attempt to get answers from Powys County Council about how the driveway was given the go-ahead to cross people's graves.

Cllr Vaughan described the work as “crass insensitivity", adding: "Residents are naturally concerned and stressed at seeing work being done.

County Times: Oswestry Advertizer readers can subscribe for just £3 for 3 months in this flash sale

"It shows total insensitivity to families and friends merely in order to create a parking space for eight cars. There’s the potential for a separate access off the main road that passes which should have been used – are we that short of land in Powys that we have to build on graveyards?"

The Dolafon Gospel Hall Trust told the County Times that conversations are "ongoing" about the work at the chapel.

A spokesperson for trust said: “Our absolute priority is being good neighbours to the communities we serve, and members of our congregation have lived and worked in the  area for many years. 

“When we purchased this chapel, planning permission had already been granted to the previous owners to redevelop the site and its grounds. The permitted works are nearing completion to restore the church to its former glory with the support of local contractors, and the church will serve our congregation who are in need of a local place of worship.

“We remain committed to working with the community to ensure any necessary restorations to the grounds are undertaken with the utmost compassion and respect, and conversations are ongoing on this matter.”

Powys County Council has been approached for a comment.