PLANS to turn a listed church building into flats have been withdrawn after concerns were raised on heritage grounds.

The Grove United Reformed Church on Oxford Road in Gomersal, which is Grade II-listed, has been on the market for £250,000.

If followed a declining congregation which saw the church close to worshippers and it was put up for sale in 2022.

Plans were lodged earlier this year to convert the historic 19th-century building into ten apartments.

But Historic England has raised concerns that the plans will cause harm to the “significance of the grade II listed building” as it would result in the loss of the existing pews and pulpit and the double-height space.

They suggest reducing the number of planned flats from ten, which would reduce the harm to the listed building.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Plans for Grove United Reformed Church in GomersalPlans for Grove United Reformed Church in Gomersal (Image: Acumen Designers and Architects)

In a letter, Historic England inspector Emma Sharpe states: “The proposed conversion of the main chapel space will result in the loss of the existing pews, pulpit and rail.

“The proposed subdivision of the space into apartments will also impact on the legibility of the original gallery and double-height space.

“This will cause harm to the significance of the grade II listed building as an example of an early nineteenth-century non-conformist chapel.

“There are some elements of the design that seek to mitigate this harm, for example the retention of the original pair of staircases, the retention of columns and the creation of a double-height space within two of the units.

“The harm could be reduced further if a reduced number of units was proposed for the chapel building.”

She adds: “Whatever scheme is taken forward, we recommend opportunities are also taken to retain or reuse existing joinery within the building.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Grove United Reform Church in GomersalGrove United Reform Church in Gomersal (Image: Google Street View)

The plans involved creating a mix of one and two-bedroom apartments, which would have required minor external alterations, including enlarging an existing window to create a doorway and reopening two window openings that had been blocked up.

A statement accompanying the plans stated: “An ageing congregation and then the Covid-19 pandemic, which prevented people from visiting the church, meant that by the start of 2022 the numbers visiting the church on a regular basis was not enough to keep the church open and maintained, which resulted in the building being closed and placed on the market in May 2022.”

They added that prospective purchasers had been assessing what viable alternatives there are for the use of the building.