This is how a major office complex planned for Whitehaven town centre will look. 

Images released by the company behind the massive development show the five-storey building towering over the Roman Catholic chapel of St Gregory’s and St Patrick’s on Quay Street. 

The developer has also revealed that work will begin in around 18 months’ time.

Eros Properties has been granted outline planning permission to demolish two retail units next to the chapel to make way for the office building. 

Copeland’s planning panel voted unanimously to approve the scheme in June – subject to a planning condition being met over the future protection of the chapel wall.

The office complex inside the Whitehaven Town Centre Conservation Area will include a retail unit on the ground level and a car park with room for 80 vehicles.

A public space will also be created between the office building and the chapel. The development will take the form of an L-shape around the religious building, which has been in the town for 130 years.

Planners Barton Willmore say the scheme will deliver significant opportunities to Whitehaven, with the creation of up to 400 new full-time office jobs as well as generating £18.4 million a year for the local economy.

Hannah Walker, senior planner at Barton Willmore, said: “It is important that investment in Whitehaven goes beyond the North Shore and this is evidenced in the regeneration of the Quay Street site with the new office scheme. 

“The redevelopment of this key site in the town centre will not only contribute significantly to the local economy, but it will also create a substantial number of jobs and enhance Whitehaven’s reputation as the destination of choice for executive office accommodation in Cumbria.”

However, Parish Priest Rev Cenydd Marrison fears for the future of the historic Roman Catholic chapel of St Gregory’s and St Patrick’s.

He is worried about the potential impact the works could have on the chapel which is joined on to the buildings that are to be knocked down.

Father Cenydd said: “We are not certain they will be able to keep the chapel standing, with cracks and things like that. The chapel is used every day. With the construction work, are we going to have access to our chapel? We haven’t been told anything about this yet.

“The aesthetics for Whitehaven - quite what the party wall is going to look like. If that’s just a blank wall, that’s not going to be nice. I would have to consider my own decorations - a presentation for the 10 commandments or a quote from the gospel.

“We are not objecting to having an office space, we are objecting to the aesthetics and the continued structural soundness of the chapel. All I want to do is protect the chapel the best I can. It’s a historic asset to the town. It’s used every day and is an amenity. It would be missed by the parish should anything go wrong.”