PLANS to change the use of the former St Luke's Church into a shop have been refused by Warrington Borough Council.

Business owner Zholia Alemi hoped that the church could be used for retail purposes having received initial encouragement from planners.

St Luke’s was built in 1893 to serve the growing outer suburb of Sankey Bridges and is a grade II listed building.

On the decision notice documents, the council stated: "Although the proposed building work cause less than substantial harm to the heritage asset the scheme does not generate public benefits that outweigh the harm.

"The proposed use is not considered to be the optimum viable use for the building.

"The part demolition of the boundary wall to accommodate access to the site also does not represent the appropriate preservation of the heritage asset."

When plans were originally submitted, Jim Randle, from Randle White Architects, said: “The church has fallen into disrepair having been vacant for more than a decade.

“The listed building’s original use as a place of worship has long ceased and its grounds are now subjected to fly-tipping and vandalism.

“Without investment St Luke’s faces an uncertain future and requires the support of planners to be re-established as a true heritage asset.”