WORK to convert a derelict church into a medical centre for two GP practices is due to start next month.

Holy Trinity Church in Hove has been empty for almost nine years and had been facing demolition.

However the site in Blatchington Road is now being redeveloped and turned into a new home for Sackville Medical Centre and Central Hove Surgery.

The practices, based in Sackville Road and Ventnor Villas respectively, have been looking for new premises.

It is claimed the move will improve services and facilities for thousands of patients.

The practices say the move will help them provide the best care for their patients and will enable them to expand to provide a broader range of services.

Their current sites are currently full to capacity and there is no room for expansion.

The work is being carried out by Medical Centre Developments.

Company director Nigel Ford said: “I am pleased to confirm our contractor is due to start on site at the beginning of March.

“The conversion of the former church into a 14,250 square foot fully compliant NHS surgery, as well as a pharmacy in the grounds, should take 12 months barring any unforeseen delays.”

Providing better buildings for practices to work from across Brighton and Hove is one of the priorities for NHS England over the coming years.

A spokesman said discussions have been continuing with both practices since planning permission for the development was granted last July.

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

The new practice, which will provide care for about 17,500 patients, is due to open in spring 2017.

The work comes as health bosses continue work to deal with the planned closure of five GP practices in the city later this year.

The Practice Group is terminating its contract to run the surgeries because of a potential reduction in funding and staffing problems.

NHS England said everything possible was being done to ensure patients are able to register with a GP.

This included speaking with other GP practices in the city to see if they would be able to expand to take in more patients.