ENGLISH Heritage has objected to proposals to knock down a derelict listed cemetery chapel in Bradford - the only remaining Victorian one of its scale in the city.

Plans submitted by Bradford Council for the partial demolition of the crime-ridden Grade II listed chapel at Bowling Cemetery, Rooley Lane, Bradford, would make way for the creation of a memorial garden. The move is designed to cut crime at a problem hotspot where a "staggering" number of offences have taken place.

The chapel, built more than a century ago, has been vacant since 1987 and has become a magnet for “serious and persistent” crime, while also consuming public resources, according to the planning application report.

It reveals that Bowling Cemetery has been hit by the vandalism of numerous grave stones, muggings and assaults in recent months, with what the report described as a “staggering” 15 offences being recorded at the site between February 1 and July 31 this year.

Earlier this year the Council contacted groups, such as Friends of Bowling Park, to see if they could take on the chapel, but no-one took up the offer.

The design access and heritage statement, said: “It is with regret that this application for demolition is made.

“The proposal will cause substantial harm to its special interest.

“For 27 years, the chapel has consumed public resources. It is clearly in the public interest to now find a long-term and sustainable solution for this building.

“The chapel is a threat to the on-going use and maintenance of the cemetery that must be addressed.”

Kerry Babington, inspector of historic buildings and areas at English Heritage, states in a letter: "Whilst we understand the pressures on local authority resources, listed buildings are irreplaceable assets of national importance, and they contribute greatly to people's enjoyment of places, their sense of identity and connection with the past.

"Options which retain more of the building's fabric should be pursued, as outlined in our pre-application advice. This will allow a more substantial marketing exercise to be undertaken and potential viable uses of the building to be explored in more depth."

She goes on to add that they acknowledge the public benefits that would arise from demolition, but they do not agree that it constitutes "substantial" public benefits which would outweigh the loss of "this irreplaceable nationally important heritage asset".

English Heritage has urged the Council to give the search for interested parties to take on the building more time.

As reported previously in the Telegraph & Argus, some people who use the cemetery agree with plans to demolish the building.

Martin Dixon, 55, of Pembroke Street, West Bowling, a frequent visitor to the cemetery, said: "It's an eyesore. It would be sad to see it go, but it's got to go.

"All of my family are buried here. It's about time that it was demolished before somebody gets injured."

The planning application is expected to be determined next month.