IT IS “curtains up” for a former Great Lever church, as councillors gave developers permission to turn it into a community theatre.

St Simon and St Jude’s Church in Rishton Lane is set to be given a new lease of life after Heaton resident Robert Peale applied to change the use of the disused property.

In a letter from his agent Good and Tillotson to the council, it says it is hoped that the centre will be used by local amateur dramatic groups, operatic and dancing groups.

St Simon and St Jude’s Amateur Dramatic Society currently operate at the school of the same name, and society committee member Stella Crank said it was good news the church was to be re-opened.

The group performed a range of shows and cabarets in the church until 2008, when it closed.

Ms Crank said: “With the kind permission of the local school we actually use that facility and have done since the church was shut.

“So we have got a stage and full kit set up down at the school, and have a programme of shows starting from February 19.

“That is not to say that we wouldn’t use the church again, but it would have to go through our committee.

“It is a beautiful building and it’s great that it’s going to be available for use by the local community again.”

Built in 1900 by famous Bolton architect Richard Knill Freeman, the church is not listed, and has not been used for a number of years. The building is up for sale for £150,000 and is currently under offer.

Councillors approved that the venue will open from 7.30am until 10pm Monday to Friday, with irregular theatre performances running until 11.30pm.