Plans for a 17-storey tower block dubbed the “Purley skyscraper” have taken a step forward.

Purley Baptist Church this week submitted an application for a building, ranging between three and 17 storeys, proposed to include 114 flats alongside a community and church space and a retail unit.

The application, for the island site at the junction of Banstead Road and Russell Hill Road, also proposes a second building between three and eight storeys for 106 flats on the southern side of the site.

The church has been battling to redevelop the site since 1999 and has worked with several developers in that time.

It wants a larger church than its current one in Brighton Road, with facilities including an auditorium, which can also be used to host community events and business conferences.

But Chris Philp, MP for Croydon South, who is leading the campaign against the tower said: “There are three reason why I totally oppose it. The first is that it is 17 storeys, which is over three times the height of the next tallest building in Purley so it will totally change the character of the town centre.

“Secondly, it will set a precedent so other developers with use that as an excuse to build future skyscrapers.

“And thirdly, it only has about 40 parking spaces for over 200 flats so that will add to the existing parking problems in Purley town.

“Clearly something should be built there because it has been empty for 25 years, but I think something like six or seven stories would be more appropriate.

“It will set a precedent and before you know it Purley will look like Croydon town centre.”

Mr Philp set up a petition against the development last year, which has reached 5,500 signatures.

Diane Hearne, chair of the Hartley and District Residents Association, said the size of the building is “ludicrous” for Purley town centre.

She said: “There is a very strong feeling against this with everyone I have spoken to.

“17 storeys is ludicrous in Purley; it is out of keeping with the entire area.

“The site needs to be developed, it is an eyesore but if they were to build it they would get other ones.”

Public consultation on the plans is open until July 14 and the council is set to make a decision on the application by September.