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Conservationists are calling for an historic chapel in Southend to be given listed status to prevent it from being torn down.
The chapel is facing demolition under proposals put forward by McCarthy and Stone to build 144 retirement and assisted living apartments on the site of the former Nazareth House care home in London Road.
Two three-storey buildings will be bulldozed, along with other smaller buildings including a 19th century chapel which the developer has said is “not of sufficient quality or interest to warrant their retention”.
McCarthy and Stone has not yet secured planning permission for the proposals.
Giving its feedback on the scheme, the Milton Conservation Society says it wants alternative uses for the chapel to be explored before pressing ahead with demolition.
The group added it is not opposed to the apartments scheme, but has called for the little chapel, which the late MP Sir David Amess was said to have attended on his many visits to Nazareth House, to be preserved and listed.
Andy Atkinson, vice-chairman of the Milton Conservation Society, said: “The most notable building at this central location is the chapel, a building of some local significance.
“We contend that the submitted heritage report undervalues the significance of this building.
“There is no recognition of the chapel’s relationship to St Helen’s Roman Catholic Church, located a very short distance away, as part of the local parish.”
Mr Atkinson added: “The chapel was significant for parishioners of St Helen’s and other local parishes who frequently attended.
“The chapel was held in affection by local people and gave the opportunity for social interaction with residents of Nazareth House.
“We suggest that the building has been overlooked to some extent due to its constrained, behind the wall, location and should now be considered for local listing.”
Labour councillor for Victoria ward, Ian Gilbert, has backed the bid to preserve the chapel.
He said: “In general I am in favour of preserving the chapel if that’s part of the site that’s particularly important for heritage.
“It is given that most of the site will need to be redeveloped but if the chapel is a significant part of the heritage and it can be preserved I would be in favour of that.”