WORK to build a new care home for dementia sufferers in Westhoughton has begun.

Equipment and bulldozers have moved in to build the home on the old car park of the Red Lion pub in Wigan Road.

Atherton-based Woodlands Care was given planning permission for the 52-bed care home in November.

It has also applied to partly convert the historic pub building into 16 assisted living apartments.

The building work starts less than a fortnight before the consultation period on the loss of facilities at another of the town’s care homes, Winifred Kettle, ends.

A Woodlands Care spokesman said engineers were working on drainage and sewers for the new care home, with work expected to be completed by March or April next year.

Cllr David Chadwick said it would be disappointing to see the outward appearance of the pub — understood to date back 350 to 400 years — change.

He added: “The town’s history group is committed to retaining as many of the town centre’s period buildings as possible so obviously we’re disappointed with this.

“It’s only in the last four to five years that the pub has not been a vibrant venue.

“I would have liked more effort to have been made to retain the building in its current form.”

Cllr Wilkinson said: “I think it’s good news because, in a sense, this was dead land. Better care and homes for older people or an old building which is not doing anything is not the toughest choice.

After receiving the go-ahead from Bolton Council to build the care home, Tracy Freeman, a director at Woodlands, said: “The flats will not necessarily be for people in need of help, more older people who want security and help close by.”

Woodlands Care currently runs a 36-bed private facility in Woodlands Drive, Atherton.