Campaigners have condemned plans to knock down a “beautiful” Victorian vicarage and replace it with a “skyscraper”.

More than 200 people have backed the Save Church Walk House campaign to help protect the historic site after developers applied for planning permission for a new retirement complex.

The church, in Prospect Road, Childs Hill, Cricklewood faces a row of houses and residents have described the plans for more than 50 flats for elderly people as a “tower block on its side”.

Next to the church lies an abandoned retirement home that closed two years ago - this will also be rebuilt if the proposals are approved.

Harriet Green, of Prospect Road, said: “It’s going to be like a skyscraper in the middle of a country lane.

“It will completely block all the sunlight to our conservatories because of the shape of it. It’s going to be three and a half times the size of the previous building.

“We’re angry about this, we don’t want a development of this scale.”

Campaigners sat they are not against the idea of a residential home in the area, but want to ensure it is of the right height and size.

The proposed home will feature a restaurant and a hairdresser, and all 53 flats will be available for anyone over the age of 55, and have a warden on site.

Childs Hill councillor Jack Cohen yesterday met campaigners to hear about their concerns.

Louise Lerman, of Lyndall Avenue, which backs onto the church, said: “It’s the most beautiful building. Trying to save it has almost become a full-time job.

“The home is going to be overpowering and over dominating. The vicarage is a precious building and if it were to be knocked down, I’d seriously consider leaving my home of 28 years.”

Both the Ancient Monument Society and the Victorian Society have objected to the vicarage demolition and the English Heritage is considering listing it, but Barnet Council has previously turned down a request to list the vicarage.

The proposals were sent to the planning committee in September, but were deferred after residents could prove Central & Cecil Housing Trust had not submitted key documents required by law.

Days before Christmas, the developers returned with an identical application and a decision on whether to approve it is due in February.

Mrs Green’s husband, John Paul Flintoff, a journalist, said: “We feel curtly rebuffed by the council. They don’t listen to us. It was mysteriously turned down for listing - very unfair.”

William Geller, of Lyndall Avenue, said: “It’s totally out of scale with the current building. The height and depth of it is out of character with the rest of it. If it was smaller, we’d welcome the plans.”

Barnet Council said it could not comment on the application before it has been heard by the planning committee.