PLANS to transform a historic pub into a 52-bed care home for dementia patients and a sheltered housing block have been given the go-ahead by council chiefs.

The Red Lion pub, in Wigan Road, Westhoughton — believed to date back between 350 and 400 years — has been bought by Woodlands Care, which runs a similar care facility in Atherton.

Woodlands Care said it intends for builders to be on site within two weeks and sees no reason why both projects will not be complete by their target date of March 2015.

Cllr David Chadwick, for Westhoughton South, said the decision from planning officers was “brilliant news” as the town could do with the service. The home had already received permission to build the care facility on the vacant car park behind the pub.

Permission was given by Bolton Council on February 17 to convert the old pub building into 16 one-bedroomed flats, meaning the two projects can be combined.

Tracy Freeman, a director at Woodlands, said: “We are excited to see the project start in earnest now.

“This will be a big expansion of our business and Westhoughton is a lovely town with a nice community feel.

“We will be working in local schools and with the community as we want as many people to be dementia-aware as possible.”

The council has attached several conditions to the development after initial concerns were raised over the loss of such a historic building.

Woodlands Care has been told it must ensure the development reflects local distinctiveness and that certain aspects of the original pub building are preserved while building work is carried out.

Cllr Chadwick said: “I am very happy to see it starting at last as it has been a long and thorough application process.

“They have a good reputation for running a similar facility in Atherton and I am pleased they chose Westhoughton.

“Many people in Westhoughton would like to retain the facade of the building and fortunately the directors of the company agree.”

A website address will be put on the fencing surrounding the site, which Woodlands Care will update weekly to keep residents up to date with progress being made.