THE owners of the former Theatre Church say they have no choice but to demolish the building because it is in such a bad state of repair.

A planning application has been submitted to knock down Crystal Theatre, Function and Wedding Halls, in Seymour Road, Astley Bridge, to build nine houses.

Mohamed Nawaz Kulasi, of Seymour Road, said builders had to break down a number of false walls and ceilings, which revealed hidden structural damage.

He says he has taken 150 photographs, after he bought it from Bolton Methodist Circuit in summer 2012 for £500,000.

He added: “To my knowledge, the theatre groups were given the entire building — the theatre church, the side chapel, the main halls and the full building behind the stage — for £68 per week, subject to the theatre groups being fully responsible for all the maintenance and repair works.

“The matter is not who was responsible, Methodist Church Trustees or the amateur theatre groups, they were all aware of this.”

Mr Kulasi says builders advised him it was hazardous and the wedding venue was closed in April.

He says he has approached English Heritage, Bolton Civic Trust and charities for support but none would get involved due to the building not being listed or in a conservation area.

Mr Kulasi now wants planners to approve his application to demolish the building.

Paul Cohen, chairman of Bolton Amateur Theatre Societies, disputes Mr Kulasi’s claims that the building was left needing £400,000 of repairs.

He said: “We only rented the building. We had a full structural survey done and it did not reveal any of the problems Mr Kulasi’s claims there are. The only thing it did reveal was something to do with the roof.

“As for the £400,000 worth of repairs, I don’t believe that for one minute. There are no major structural issues and it certainly was not our responsibility.”

The planning application will be discussed by councillors at a meeting on September 25.

Bolton Methodist Circuit was responsible for the upkeep of the building, before its sale in 2012.

Anna Drew, Methodist Church spokesman said: “The Methodist Church always seeks to follow good practice in the sale of any of its properties.

“This includes complying with charity law, which requires us to get the best possible price on any sale.

“We also seek to ensure that prospective buyers have adequate opportunities to inspect the buildings and conduct their own surveys.”