A CHURCH left empty for 20 years is set to be turned into distinctive homes and apartments.

An application has been submitted to Southend Council to turn Park Road Methodist Church, Southend, into six new homes while maintaining some of the special features.

The former Wesleyan Methodist Church would be partially demolished, as would buildings attached to the church hall.

They will make way for four houses and two apartments, subject to planning permission.

The Grade II listed building, built in 1872, is a prominent feature of the Milton Conservation Area.

It was sold by the Methodist Church some years ago with the building receiving listed status in 1987 due to its “special architectural and historical interest and character”.

The hall, built 30 years after the church, was used as a school room.

Andy Atkinson, from the Milton Conservation Society, said: “We have had a meeting about it and we have certainly got some reservations.

“Because it is a Grade II listed building, it’s got to be looked after and we’re not sure this planning application does that.

“We are sympathetic with the reuse of the building and we are sympathetic with residential use but we have got to give a detailed response to the council.”

Mr Atkinson added: “There are lots planning documents to go through.

“We do know one spire was lost many years ago and the drawings show there are no plans to replace it and that is a concern.

“The church has been empty for a long time and has been used for storage in recent years.

“This a key building in our area so we have got to be sure it is used in the right way. “We would want to make sure things like the stone walls and stained glass is preserved.”

The church, which was declared redundant in 1997, still retains its interior features, including original pews, along with stained glass windows to the west of the church.

It is such a landmark building, it features on the front of Southend Council’s conservation area appraisal document.