A FOOTPATH is being built on consecrated land by developers working on a new Tesco store in Little Lever.

Concerns have been raised over the works — but Bolton Council and developers Zerum Consult insist that no graves will be disturbed.

The footpath will be installed in the village’s memorial gardens, at the junction of Ainsworth Road and Market Street, to give shoppers easier access to the new store once it is opened.

The gardens, which are at the site of the former St Matthew’s Church, closed in the 19th century but there are still graves there.

Sean Hornby, a former Little Lever councillor who has lived in the village all of his life, said: “As these memorial are on consecrated ground there should have been more thought going into where this footpath was placed.

“I don’t believe the footpath is required.

“I know the history of Little Lever inside out — I was born here and my dad lived here all his life.

“So of course I’m worried if Tesco are using it to carry out work, as this land is an important part of the village’s history.”

Bolton Council says only part of the ground was used as a graveyard, while Zerum Consult says the design will not threaten any graves, as workmen will only dig about six inches into the ground.

A council spokesman said: “The footpath follows the route of an existing path which people already use to cross the public open space.

“The contractor has carried out investigations along the line of the path, and found no evidence of graves or remains.

“Only part of the ground was a former graveyard for St Matthew’s Church before the church moved in 1865 and the area is now public open space.

“From the historical record the path crosses what used to be several buildings.”

Andrew Duffy, associate director of Zerum Consult, added: “I understand the sensitivity around the building of this footpath, but we have managed the development to the best of our ability.

“The footpath will only about be about six inches deep, which will not reach the depths of graves.”