A DILAPIDATED church in Weymouth town centre has been given a new chance to rise from the ashes.

The Maiden Street Methodist Church, which was gutted in a major fire more than a decade ago, has been on sale since it failed to find a buyer at auction in February.

Estate agent Symonds and Sampson has announced that the church has now been sold to a private buyer for an undisclosed sum.

The church was initially expected to fetch between £250,000 and £275,000 at auction.

Immy Robinson at Symonds and Sampson, said: “We are very pleased to announce that finally the former Methodist Church has a new owner.

“The church is now in the hands of a private buyer who has yet to disclose their plans for the building, but we believe they are intending to restore the church and return it to the iconic property it was before the destructive fire in 2002.

“Although the destiny of the church is as yet unknown, we are sure that any schemes planned for the building will come to light in due course.”

The Maiden Street site has been labelled a major eyesore since the church, believed to have been erected in 1867 for only £3,500, was gutted

by a fire in 2002.

Developers purchased the church in 2007 and secured planning permission to create a five-storey apartment complex and a ground floor restaurant, but the project did not proceed.

The church appears on Historic England’s list of ‘buildings at risk’.

Ms Robinson said: “When we took the property on in January, we knew it would not be the easiest sale.

“Although when restored it will be a glorious building in the town, due to its Grade II Listed status and all the rules and regulations that come with it and the level of extreme dilapidation, it required a specialist buyer who was willing to take on a very big project.

“It is certainly not your average DIY renovation and requires far more than a lick of paint.”

Jacquie Martinez, assistant inspector of historical buildings and areas at Historic England, said: “Historic England is pleased to hear that this landmark building has a new owner, and hope this marks the start of a new and positive chapter in its history.

"We’re looking forward to hearing from the purchaser, to discuss how new life can be breathed into this listed building while preserving its great architectural and historic value.”

Ms Robinson added: “It will be a real pleasure to see the church restored and we are looking forward to seeing what plans are in store for this extraordinary property.”