A DERELICT church could be transformed into a medical centre under recently submitted plans.

Holy Trinity Church in Blatchington Road, Hove, has been empty for nearly eight years and was facing the possibility of demolition.

The proposal is for it to house two practices – Sackville Medical Centre and Central Hove Surgery – which both need new premises.

The centre would be spread over three floors of the Grade II-listed church building, with an extension for an onsite pharmacy.

Dr Tim McMinn, lead GP at Sackville, said: “We are all absolutely delighted by the plans. As well as being good for the practice it means a community use for a building that has been sitting empty.”

Sackville has been searching for suitable premises for more than eight years, with both surgeries’ lack of space “severely compromising” the services they can offer to patients.

Holy Trinity is described by developers as ideal in a densely populated central location for the surgeries. The development would retain the existing community use of the listed building and ensure the demolition is no longer a consideration by owner, the Diocese of Chichester.

A spokesman for the diocese said: “The planning application for a medical centre will give the local community access to a much-needed service and the diocese is very supportive of it.

“We are thankful that the site has generated so much enthusiasm for this project.”

The plan is supported in principle by Valerie Paynter, founder of action group Save Hove, but she raised concerns about the pharmacy extension.

She said: “I don’t see any justification for this little pill-box pharmacy.

“They have been six years planning this and this is as good as it gets? It is not good enough.

“With two other pharmacies nearby, including an independent business, have the council considered what the impact on them will be?”

The development is supported by NHS England, subject to planning permission, with a decision date due on March 3.

If permission is granted, the developers hope the new practice will open by summer 2016.