A priest has declared it his mission to transform "the most Godless city in Britain".

Reverend Archie Coates' comments about Brighton and Hove have prompted a concerned reaction among residents.

He made them following his arrival in the city to head the off-shoot of London's evangelical Holy Trinity Brompton church being set up at St Peter's Church - the landmark building dubbed Brighton's Cathedral – in York Place.

The new parish has been "planted" because St Peter's dwindling congregation could no longer afford to maintain the building. It will hold its first mass on November 1.

In a web video, Rev Coates said: "Brighton is a place of great social and spiritual need. Homelessness, drugs and young men and women caught in the sex industry. It has been dubbed Britain's most Godless city."

Click here to see the video

He said his church could transform Brighton.

Rev Coates said: "Our vision is not just to fill the church but it's to build in the heart of this city a community and do whatever we can to sow our best years into playing our part in the re-evangelisation of Brighton and transformation of this society."

The announcement was questioned by representatives of residents around St Peter's.

Councillor Keith Taylor, who represents the area on Brighton and Hove City Council, said he hoped the church would be successful and would become a positive part of the community.

But he added: "Just because people do not go to church every week, it doesn't necessarily make them less good, or even 'Godless'. The church can provide an example and a place but it's humanity that is important."

Click on play to see what people thought about their city being branded "Godless"

Rev Coates' comments were prompted by figures from the 2001 UK Census, the first to include questions about religion.

Rev Coates last night said: "Since I moved to Brighton six weeks ago I have realised that it is a lot more godly than I imagined. If you look around you see the creativity, the vibrancy and the life of the city."