EXCITING plans to give a pair of Victorian chapels a new lease of life have been submitted.

Blueprints for The Penrith Cemetery Chapels, on Beacon Edge, have been lodged with Eden District Council by locally based developer, Twedell & Slater, consulting civil and structural engineers.

The building, that was completed in 1872, is Grade II Listed and its architecture is described as "Gothic Revival".

According to the design and access statement: "The brief as originally discussed was to explore the conversion of the existing cemetery chapels from a redundant ecclesiastical building into office accommodation suitable for the applicant with ambitions to grow and inhabit a unique building whilst preserving an important local heritage asset from falling into disrepair.

"Discussions centred around the preservation of the form of the building and integrating office accommodation without making significant structural changes.

"Attempts would be made to preserve the character and original features wherever possible.

"A study of the existing building identified opportunities to preserve the character of key spaces and where it would be possible to extend and tie in new with old."

Nikolaus Pevsner, an influential architectural historian, known for his 46-volume work, The Buildings of England visited Penrith in the early 20th century and he described the building as “a pair of chapels linked by an arch over which is placed a belfrey and spire, fat with four fat corner spirelets.

"The links are balanced by a pair of outer porches, in fact the composition is precisely symmetrical.

"How pleasant such buildings can be when they are kept well.”

The Heritage Statement adds: "In summary, it is proffered that the proposed conversion of the former chapels to office use, as shown, will achieve a sustainable future use for a redundant heritage asset without causing substantial harm to its heritage values and thereby its significance.

"Any minor harm sustained to the aesthetic values of the place is

counterbalanced by the public benefit of securing the future of the property so that it may be interpreted and appreciated by future generations.

"The chapels are listed as Grade II Architectural and Historical Interest by Historic England.

"The description employed by the Listing Inspector is simple, detailing, “symmetrical composition with central, buttressed gate tower topped by belfry and spire. Each chapel has gable with finial, three light windows with plate tracery and gable porch on end façade.”

The Cumberland News asked Twedell & Slater for a comment but they were unable to respond by publication deadline.