Plans have been unveiled to save a derelict Leeds church building and bring it back to life as a high-quality residential scheme that will see the main Grade II* listed structure fully restored alongside a sympathetic new extension.

St Mary’s Church in Richmond Hill has sat empty for more than 30 years, but new plans, designed by Leeds based architects Brewster Bye on behalf of developers, Estate Aid Ltd and MSM (Leeds) Ltd, could see it transformed into a selection of one, two and three bedroom apartments.

A planning application has now been submitted for the scheme and Leeds City Council’s North and East Plans Panel discussed the proposals at a meeting earlier this month.

As part of the plans, the nave and aisles of the church would be removed to make way for a new extension. The chancel, transept areas and altars will be retained and restored. The church, and its proposed extension, will contain 62 apartments and the existing presbytery would be demolished and replaced with a five-storey building consisting of 113 apartments. There will also be 152 cycle and 56 car parking spaces.

Mark Henderson, director at Brewster Bye, said: “This is a complex site to develop, but our plans are an opportunity to retain the most important elements of the existing church buildings and bring them back into use, as well as creating a valuable community asset that will be a fantastic place to live.

“The sympathetic and aesthetically striking extension to the nave will echo the language of the existing church whilst giving a contemporary backdrop to the chancel. It will feature a simple palate of materials that respect the existing building. These plans, and the development team behind them, provide a genuine opportunity to save a well-known Leeds landmark.”

Mark added: “St Mary’s Church is an iconic building in East Leeds, but in recent decades it has sadly become a prominent example of urban decay on the Leeds skyline. The church opened in 1851 and is a beautiful building, but after sitting empty since it closed in 1989, it is now in urgent need of restoration, if it is to be saved.

“Crucially, this scheme will also connect to Leeds city centre, linking the Saxton Gardens development and more recent residential schemes on Marsh Lane and Richmond Hill, and will be another important piece of the jigsaw in the rejuvenation of this part of the city.”

The plans have been produced in consultation with Historic England, Civic Trust and Leeds City Council’s conservation department.