PLANS to partially convert an historic church into a house look likely to go ahead despite fears over how close it could end up being to a graveyard.

The bid to transform Birch’s St Peter and Paul’s Church are due to be considered by Colchester Council's planning committee this week.

The church, which sits in a conservation area, has become increasingly dilapidated since 1990 when church services were stopped.

If approved, the majority of the church’s south aisle would be demolished but keeping the western gable wall. It would then be converted to a single house with new raft foundation, partial mezzanine and new floors in the tower.

But Kevin Bentley, borough councillor for the area, has called in the application over fears of how close it could be to funeral services.

He said: "The new dwelling would require demolition of the church and the construction of a dwelling very close to a graveyard that is very much still in use.

"Such a dwelling would, I believe, not be appropriate and could lead to unnecessary stress to grieving relatives at a funeral or visiting loved ones.

"It would not afford the peace, privacy and tranquillity that a graveyard should provide.

"Secondly, this area is in a cul-de-sac and is already crowded at peak school times with parked cars and will add further vehicular movements to an already congested and dangerous area."

Birch Parish Council have raised similar concerns.

The Grade II listed church has been under threat of demolition since the 1990s. And in 2014, the Church Commissioners for England said it could not find a use for the site.

It was built in the mid 1800s on the site of a former medieval church.

At one point, a housing scheme was proposed for the site but later abandoned.

Demolition plans were thwarted in 2018 when outraged villagers campaigned for a more viable use to be found and the church commissioners withdrew their proposals.

A public inquiry had been scheduled but was later called off when the plan was withdraw.