OPPOSITION is mounting against plans to turn an historic York chapel into flats and a Sainsbury's supermarket.

York-based developer S Harrison has agreed terms to buy the Grade II listed Groves Chapel in Clarence Street, after it was put up for sale by York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

A covenant, which would have prohibited the sale of alcohol on the premises of the chapel has been lifted, a spokesman for the developer said. The York Methodist circuit attempted to resist the bid to lift the covenant but learned they were not legally able to, Reverend Stephen Burgess, chair of the York and Hull District of the Methodist Church said.

The York Hospital Trust has said it is obliged to dispose of assets it does not use and to go for the offer which is most beneficial for the NHS.

But since the £5 million plans were announced, more than 500 people have signed a petition against the proposals for the new supermarket and group of Union Terrace residents have also vowed to fight the plans.

York Press:

A Christian group which bid to restore the chapel and to use it for religious services, youth clubs, a community meeting place and place for hospital visitors, said it was felt the decision had been made by the hospital trust for financial gain and without consideration to the interests of the local community.

Paul Mason, of Hope Central, said: " We intend to object to this development because we wanted to renovate and restore it to a chapel. We want to take it back to the community to benefit the community."

Mr Mason, who said other interested parties to bid included religious groups and a pub chain, added the substantial changes necessary for the supermarket bid to work would mean an antique mezzanine floor would have to be removed from the listed building. He said they are launching a petition against the decision.

An online petition signed by more than 500 people against the decision states: "This beautiful and historic building has so much potential and should be reserved for the benefit of the city and its residents. We do not need another Sainsbury's.. this building is part of [York's] heritage."

Meanwhile, Union Terrace residents have said it is unsuitable to set up the supermarket so close to recovering alcoholics in Arc Light and said they fear congestion, parking and anti-social behaviour will arise with the supermarket and the "advent of yet another cheap alcohol outlet".

York Press:

The Hospital Trust bought the methodist chapel, which was built in 1883 and also features a more recent two-storey extension to the rear, in the 1970s and had used it as a training centre and storage facility.

A spokeswoman for York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: "Groves Chapel is an under-utilised building for us and is not suitable for clinical use. All NHS organisations are obliged to dispose of surplus assets, and in so doing achieve the best financial return for the NHS.

"The chapel was on the market for a number of months and the best offer was put forward by S Harrison, who are a well known and well respected developer. The funds we will receive from the completion of the sale will go back into supporting patient care. Issues relating to its potential future use are matters for the local planning authority."

If City of York Council approves the plans, which are due to be submitted early next year, work on site will start in summer 2015.

The new Sainsbury’s store, which is set to create of up to 25 jobs, will be 1,000sq ft larger than the Sainsbury's Local in Micklegate. It would open in early 2016, when the apartments would also be completed.