Powys County Council has referred the possible disturbance of graves at a former chapel near Newtown, where work has taken place to create a new driveway, to the police.

Powys County Council said it has reported the matter relating to work carried out at Bethany Chapel in Hodley, near Kerry to Dyfed-Powys Police and has informed the Ministry of Justice.

An open planning enforcement case is investigating whether the works - first reported by the County Times two weeks ago - comply with planning permissions which were approved by the local authority.

It follows continued work at the site last week which involved wooden poles being erected into a grave for a new fence along the driveway leading to the chapel.

Dyfed-Powys Police confirmed it has received reports which are "currently being evaluated as to whether a criminal offence has been committed".

Dolafon Gospel Hall Trust, who applied for planning permission, 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".

Family members have spoken of their shock after finding out through social media and local media reports that their loved ones' graves have been covered by a driveway this summer.

READ MORE: Church near Newtown, Powys installs driveway on grave sites

Eight surviving grandchildren of John Davies Lewis and Olive Lewis, and their grandparents William White and his wife Martha described the work as “completely inappropriate” and have called on the Welsh Government to carry out an “urgent” inquiry.

"We are all shocked and deeply upset to learn that the graves of our ancestors have been violated without any consultation, none of us have had any communication regarding our opinions on this completely inappropriate development.

"There have been extensive excavations through the area of our family graves and call for reassurance and evidence that our loved ones' remains have not been disturbed or even taken away.”

Powys County Council previously said: “The council is aware of recent concerns being raised in respect to works being completed within the graveyard at Bethany Chapel, Hodley.


“Listed building consent was granted for the relocation of six headstones under application P/2011/0258, which was granted consent in February 2012. Works to any graves would require separate consent from the Home Office and the agent was made aware of this requirement.

“Planning permission has since been granted for the change of use of land to form a parking area and formation of vehicular access in June 2022 (21/0237/FUL). This application did not seek to relocate any further gravestones from the P/2011/0258 consent.

“The council has been made aware of concerns raised regarding the works ongoing at Bethany Chapel. and have an open enforcement case where it is investigating a breach of condition in respect of planning consents 21/0237/FUL and P/2011/0258.

“The council can confirm that the agent and Home Office have been made aware of the concerns for their own investigations.”

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.”