WORK to regenerate a derelict site at the heart of a community is expected to start by the end of the year.
The late 19th century building — which has previously been a school, an aquarium, and a restaurant — has lain empty for around a decade.
In that time it has become an eyesore on Lea Gate and a target for flytippers and anti-social behaviour.
Developers Cube Construct are now eager to press ahead with their ambitious vision for the site.
Peter Laithwaite, chief executive of Cube Construct, said: “We have to provide a flood risk plan, a drainage plan, and a bat survey before we can start building.
“That means we probably can’t put a spade in the ground until the end of the year.
“We can’t wait to get going with it, the plans look fabulous and we are really excited about it.
“It will be a beautiful private, gated space and will rebuilt this site at the heart of the community which has been an eyesore for years.
“There was a bit of an adverse reaction in terms of the traffic impact it will have, but it is only eight houses.
“If you think about how many cars would have been coming and going when it was a restaurant, the impact will be far less.”
Once construction begins, the project is expected to take 15 months to complete.
The school house building itself will be converted into four mews-style houses, before an additional four and a shared communal garden are built next to it.
The ground floor of the building was last used as the Old School House public house, while the first floor was a Beefeater restaurant.
Bradshaw councillor Mudasir Dean says he will be glad to finally see some life brought back to the former St Maxentius School site.
He said: “The building has been derelict for a long time and this has been a long-standing issue for myself and the other councillors.
“I am glad that something is happening there because it really does need to be brought back to life again.
“I am looking forward to seeing the development start.
“It is an iconic building in the centre of the community as you enter Harwood.
“To see it in the state it has been in over the past few years has been very sad.”
The plans for the site were approved by Bolton Council in February 2015, but were adapted last year to split one of the proposed new dwellings into two houses.
HISTORY OF THE SITE
The school house building was constructed in the late 19th century as the original St Maxentius School.
The school left the building for its current site in New Heys Way in 1966, after which it became Dave’s Aquarium.
In 1987, the building was acquired by Whitbread PLC ,who converted the school house to operate as a popular Beefeater restaurant.
The ground floor was last used as the Old School House public house, but the site has now been derelict for around 10 years.
Plans for a larger housing development on the vacant site — which would have involved the conversion of the pub into seven town houses and the erection of seven properties — were approved in August 2010, but never went ahead.
Bolton Council also gave approval in 2012 for both the ground floor and first floor to be used as financial services offices, with the second floor a flat.