THE former Farnworth Veterans Club could be transformed into shops and a restaurant.

Plans have been submitted by developer Paul Riley, who recently bought the two-storey club in Brackley Street for £75,000.

Mr Riley wants to build six retail units on the ground floor and a restaurant on the first floor.

The inside of the club has been stripped of its fixtures and fittings and, if the application is approved, work could start within the next three months.

An agent, who works with Mr Riley and spoke on his behalf, says there is the demand for a facility like this.

He added: “This will bring local and national retailers to Farnworth and make the town stronger.

“The club is an affordable retail space for prospective retailers and they will bring something new to Farnworth.

“With the redevelopment of Farnworth Market, there are going to be a lot of traders who are moved on, so we are looking to accommodate them.

“Talks are still in early stages, but they have been positive so far.”

Cllr Noel Spencer, who represents Farnworth, predicts the plans will re-galvanise the town.

He said: “It will help to regenerate the Brackley Street area, which is in need of major improvement.

“The whole area is part and parcel of the masterplan to regenerate the town, which is very important for Farnworth. Development of the town is going well.

“It was a very sad loss to the community when Farnworth Veterans Club closed — it was a place where a lot of people had some fantastic evenings.

“But to see it is not being left to ruin and that some investment is being made is a good thing, and I am sure a lot of the old members will be pleased to see it being used.”

Farnworth Veterans Club, which was set up during the First World War for ex-serviceman, closed in January after the majority of its members voted for its closure.

Bill Raynor was a member of Farnworth Veterans Club for 45 years.

He said: “I think it’s scandalous. It makes me very upset to see the club like this — it breaks my heart, to be honest.

“People won’t be interested in new restaurants and retail units in Brackley Street, because it’s too far out of town.

“The community spirit in Farnworth is completely gone. Men like me have got nowhere to go since the club closed down.“ Bill Collison, who was involved with the club since his childhood, added: “I don’t personally think retail units and a restaurant will do well.

“The people who went to the member’s club aren’t the type to go to a restaurant — it would have done better as something else.”

Residents had mixed views about the proposed development.

Nicola Townsend, aged 36, of Lucas Street, Farnworth, said: “I don’t think we need any more restaurants or shops in Farnworth, because there’s plenty already.

“The club needs regenerating, but not into what’s been proposed. Something for the children would be a better idea.”

Maureen Grady, of St Germain Street, Farnworth, added: “A restaurant is a very good idea, but I don’t think the shops will do well.”

John Hooley, aged 69, of Severn Way, Kearsley, said: “It could bring more people to the town, as more shops mean more business. It just depends on what the shops are. But at least the club is being used for something.”