A WEYMOUTH church gutted by fire has been added to English Heritage's register of buildings at risk.

The register lists nearly 1,500 of the nation's must vulnerable heritage assets which may be lost if a future cannot be found for them.

Much of the Grade II* Maiden Street Methodist Church was engulfed by flames in January 2002.

Since then church leaders have made extensive efforts to preserve the remaining fabric and talk to English Heritage about a way forward for the building's future.

The Rev Les Judd, who looks after the church, said: "We are still talking with English Heritage and the council about the future of the building.

"We have put various plans before them for a change of use and these have largely been residential ideas which would ensure that the fabric of the building could be saved."

The site is owned by the Methodists and the church's congregation currently meets at St Nicholas Church.

Mr Judd said: "The building met the needs of the church when it was built. Now, because of the fire the redevelopment costs are so astronomical that they have become prohibitive.

"The church is part of a conservation area so its future has to be sorted out between conservation and development.

"Once Maiden Street's future is agreed then any capital acquired would be able to be put towards a possible new church site in Melcombe Avenue.

"Money for this site is covered by the insurers. We will then reimburse them once Maiden Street is sold.

"The sensitive concern now is between the cost of development, the style of the building that can be retained and the style which may be able to be added on."

Weymouth and Portland conservation officer Colin Ellis said the council felt that the church's familiar rose window should be restored because it was such a landmark for the town, although they accepted that the interior was beyond restoration.

He added: "We are prepared to consider any reasonable new use for the building including residential.

"Clearly the original structure was a very large building and we would have to consider any development in that light to ensure it matched the original mass of the church."

English Heritage south west historic buildings adviser Jenny Chesher said the Maiden Street church had been built in 1866-1870 in an impressive round arched style which dominated that part of the harbour.

She added that they were talking to Methodists about the future of the church site, that the building was a landmark in its area and that its restoration would enhance a "sense of place" within the town.