THE 'sad' demolition of Formby Hall is expected to take place imminently.

Wigan Council has served a notice allowing owners Formby Hall Ltd to knock down the popular community hub.

A metal fence has been erected around the historic building on Alder Street in Atherton so that the demolition work can begin.

A spokesman for the council said: "The owners have notified our building control section and we have served notice back allowing them to start the demolition.

"This is the standard procedure with any demolition."

An MP who campaigned to try to save the community centre is saddened by the news.

Chris Green, MP for Bolton West, which covers Atherton, said: "This is a very, very sad day for the people of Atherton.

"Formby Hall was a much-loved community hub and a centre point of the town for decades.

“It is particularly sad that it is being knocked down 100 years after it was first gifted to the people of Atherton."

Formby Hall was sold by the council five years ago.

Residents believed that it could be saved from demolition when a public inquiry was launched last April.

More than 5,000 people signed a Atherton Residents Association petition to keep the bulldozers away from the hall.

However only the manner of demolition was up for debate, with the council's planning committee not having the power to prevent an application to knock down a non-listed building.

A care home is expected to be built at the site following the hall's demolition but campaigners claim the community venue belonged to the town and not the council and should never have been sold.

The Bolton News was unable to contact Formby Hall Ltd for a demolition date.