Brighton's best-known church could house offices or a caf as part of a rescue bid.

Crumbling St Peter's, the Grade II* listed parish church of Brighton in York Place, needs at least £2 million spent to restore it to its former glory.

Part of the church is already closed inside and barriers have been put up outside to protect people from falling masonry.

But with a small congregation, St Peter's cannot raise the money needed for the restoration. Neither does the Church of England, and no National Lottery money is available.

Now consultants Lorica are producing a feasibility study for the church's future to present to civic leaders and parishioners.

Ideas could include using part of the church as offices, creating some housing and installing a caf.

Stephen Sharpe from Lorica said: "The church was designed by Sir Charles Barry, who went on to design the Houses of Parliament.

"It is in one of the most prominent sites in Brighton and, after the Royal Pavilion, is probably our most important building.

"The foundation stone was laid in 1824 because of the social and spiritual needs of the community. We'd like to continue the trend."

Mr Sharpe, whose family has been instrumental in converting part of St Patrick's Church in Hove to help the homeless, said St Peter's would always be primarily a place of worship.

He said: "It will remain at the heart of the community, serving the people. It will be a true symbol of everything that is good about Brighton. If it doesn't it will not continue to exist."

Lorica is looking at ideas to discuss with the community. One is to put back the church's former gallery.

The crypt could be used for community activities or a cafe.

The adjoining hall, which is less important architecturally than the church and in poor condition, could be demolished and replaced with a new building.

Mr Sharpe said Lornica would welcome exciting and imaginative ideas but nothing had yet been decided.

Brighton and Hove lead councillor for housing Tehmtan Framroze has already talked to the Vicar of Brighton, Canon Douglas McKittrick, about whether the church could contribute towards solving the town's housing problem.

Anyone with a suggestion can visit or call Mr Sharpe on 01273 733151.