Twenty-three new car parking spaces are to be created in Dorchester – at a cost of at least £40,500 each.

The figure is made up of the cost of buying and helping to move the Dorchester Community Church from Acland Road to Poundbury to make way for a shopping development which may now never happen.

The calculation does not include the cost of demolition of the church, surrounding walls and the re-grading and surfacing of the area to create the new parking spaces.

Ward councillor Susie Hosford said: “This proposal will probably produce the most expensive parking spaces anywhere outside central London – the projected income from the extra spaces created cannot possibly justify the huge amount of expenditure that will have gone into producing them.”

West Dorset District Council acquired the church site at a time when developers, Simons, together with the council, were promising a new shopping development for the town centre.

Council records show that the authority spent a minimum of £930,000 on the purchase of the 0.05 hectare site, together with giving financial help for the church to move to its new home adjoining Damers School at Poundbury.

A report put before councillors at the time claimed that the church had a market value of £350,000 although because the site had “special significance” to the council its value was actually £700,000.

An additional £205,000 was agreed to help pay for the new building at Poundbury with an extra £25,000 to meet professional fees.

At the time the shopping development being proposed included a new Marks and Spencer store, additional space for Waitrose, other retails units, 67 apartments and 470 underground parking spaces.

The only thing which has ever been built on the Charles Street car park site since development plans were first mooted in the mid 1970s is the controversial South Walks House headquarters for the district council.

This is also part of plans that could see more than £2million could be invested on a new covered market and car park on Dorchester’s Charles Street car park and the demolition of a church.