A DERELICT church is to be transformed into a medical centre for two GP practices.

Holy Trinity Church in Hove has been empty for about eight years and was facing the possibility of demolition.

Plans to turn the church in Blatchington Road into a new home for Sackville Medical Centre and Central Hove Surgery have now been approved by Brighton and Hove City Council.

The centre will take over three floors of the Grade II listed church building and there will also be a pharmacy.

The council received hundreds of letters of support for the proposals, including one from former Hove MP Mike Weatherley.

Sackville Medical Centre, in Sackville Road and Central Hove Surgery, in Ventnor Villas, have been looking for new premises and say the move will improve services and facilities for thousands of patients.

Central Hove Surgery practice manager Amanda Jones said: “Central Hove Surgery is delighted that the development of this landmark, but currently unused building has finally been given the go ahead. The new premises will help us provide the best care for our patients and for the future we will be able to offer the residents of Hove a much broader range of medical services in a fit for purpose, modern primary care setting.”

Those in favour of the plans said the current surgeries were full to capacity and not fit for purpose and modern facilities would help the community.

Opponents said they were unhappy with the design and had concerns about the planned removal of stained glass windows, the proposed roof lights and the provision of a pharmacy.

They said the pharmacy would have a bad impact on other pharmacies in the area.

The Victorian Society acknowledged the need to find a viable use for the church but objected to the plans, saying the conversion involved numerous harmful alterations.

Valerie Paynter from Save Hove said the application should not have been approved because it did not contain enough detailed information and was not ready for proper analysis.

She said the listed integrity of the church and the listed wall would be compromised and almost certainly lost by the changes being proposed.

The report concluded the proposed works would cause less than substantial harm to the listed building and “no significant adverse effects” upon the amenities of the neighbouring properties were expected.