A MAJOR fitness firm is looking to transform an historic town centre church into a gym.

Premier Fitness has put in plans to transform the crumbling Cannon Street Baptist Church, Accringon into a major town centre fitness hub.

The landmark church, which is a listed building, has long been a problem for both Hyndburn Council and the owners Y&Y developments.

The owners have been ordered to tidy up the building, through court orders, because of the broken windows, missing metalwork and crumbling stonework of the church.

Hyndburn Council was insistent the building was an eyesore, both its frontage on Cannon Street, and at the rear of the building opposite Tesco and Accr-ington Train Station.

However, Y&Y Developments said the empty building was constantly being targeted by vandals while they looked for an interested party in transforming it into a practical use for the area.

The Grade II listed building, which dates back to 1874, has been empty since 2006.

Premier Fitness are said to have submitted the planning bid while having talks with Y&Y Developments on buying the property.

Hyndburn Council said that it was fully behind working with the applicant to bring the building back into use.

Deputy leader Clare Pritchard said: “This is a very important building, right in the heart of Accrington. But instead of being an asset, it has long been a problem. We fully support the plans to transform this building and hope it is successfully brought back into use.

Financial director of Y&Y Developments, Michael Fuerst said: “It’s been a long process finding a suitable use for this building, and the negotiations with Premier Fitness are going well. The longer the building stands empty, the more renovations are needed so we are happy to see plans to bring it into use.”