HOUSES could be built on the site of a popular community church building after it was put on the market.

But residents are pleading for the Trent Road United Reformed Church building on the Chignal Estate in Chelmsford to be kept available for community use.

The 59-year-old venue is for sale with estate agents Fenn Wright for £185,000. It is advertised as “having development potential” and the Weekly News understands offers for housing on the site have already been made.

People living on the estate say they want to see the church remain as a meeting place for community activities and clubs.

The building was used by Chelmsford Karate Club, the Strutt Your Stuff and Dance group and a Zumba class.

Trevor Crisp who lives nearby in Clyde Crescent, said the venue is valued by residents and losing it would be a shame.

Mr Crisp, 53, said: “My son Peter used to be part of the karate group based there and it was ideal as it is just a few minutes walk from our house.

“But when the church went up for sale the karate had to switch to the scout hut on Langton Avenue about a mile away which is a bit far for a youngster to be walking alone in the evening.

“The estate has not got a lot of facilities at present and if this one disappeared it would feel like we are being cut off from the rest of the city.”

Chelmsford North county councillor Stephen Robinson said he is hopeful the venue can be retained for community use.

The Lib Dem said: “I want it to stay as a building for residents and groups to use as without it there are no other facilities like it on the estate.

“It would also be good to see whoever takes it over do some renovation to it as not much appears to have been done since it opened in 1955.

“Clearly there is a need for it to remain in the community rather than more housing and I hope this is taken into account.”