Plans to build a major housing complex and care home on the site of a historic Southend convent building have been refused.

The outline application submitted by The Congregation of the Sisters of Nazareth proposed demolishing the existing buildings at Nazareth House on London Road and replacing them with a 77-bed care home, a convent and 154 flats.

Members of Southend’s Development Committee discussed the plans on Wednesday and agreed to refuse planning permission for several reasons but most crucially the lack of affordable housing and the scale of the proposal.

A council planning officer told the committee that the plans were “welcome in principle” and would provide benefits to the borough such as the addition of housing but “it does not outweigh the harm”.

It was noted that the applicant had been through an extensive pre-application process with the council, which raised questions over why there were so many issues in the application.

The council officer told the committee that many of the directions given by the council had not been considered.

Before making the decision to refuse the application Independent Councillor Brian Ayling proposed making a deferral.

“It does seem there has been a lack of communication between the Nazareth House developers and the council if we refuse this now it could mean the end of the road," he said.

“I would like to propose deferring the decision to give Nazareth House and the council more time to discuss the problems we are seeing.”

However, the planning officer told the committee that they are restricted to a deadline of making a decision by September 19 and so it is important a clear decision is made. He stressed that if the application is refused then the could would still welcome discussions with the developer.

Prior to the committee meeting Robert York, chief executive of the Sisters of Nazareth, said the group is trying to create a new care facility that is “fit for purpose in 2018”.

"The building was originally built in the 1800s and care of the elderly and children was very different then to what it is now so to be able to provide for residents in 2018 and beyond we need a new building,” he said.

Nazareth House is operated by the Sisters of Nazareth and currently provides residential and nursing care for the elderly.