PLANS to transform a derelict town centre cinema and club site into a retail development have been backed by councillors.

An application to create two or three units in Market Street, Westhoughton, was submitted to Bolton Council earlier this month.

The site is where the old Empire cinema and Gaiety Club building used to be before it was demolished a number of years ago.

During a meeting of Westhoughton Town Council, members unanimously backed the proposal.

Cllr David Chadwick said: "There has been much discussion of this site over many years.

"As far as I'm concerned, I am happy to support it. I want Westhoughton to be regenerated. The site has been untidy for a number of years.

"I would like to see it get developed into something that's a place to shop or drink or whatever it is used for."

The building in Market Street, Westhoughton, started life as The Empire Cinema in May, 1914, when audiences flocked to watch the top films of the day.

It later became the Gaiety Club and attracted famous rock and roll musicians and the American film star Jayne Mansfield.

It ended its life as a snooker club and has been disused for the past 15 years.

The landowner got planning permission to turn the site into 15 homes last year but the development never came to fruition.

Cllr Jack Speight said: "Market Street should be for shops. I welcome the application for it to be used for retail purposes if it is a benefit to the community.

"I would like the development to fit in with the area. As the town grows we want sustainable markets and retail premises."

Cllr David Wilkinson said it was another sign of people investing in Westhoughton's town centre.

He said: "We have had this eyesore in the town for some time. I disagreed with the housing application. I always believed it should be a commercial site.

"There are a lot of people in Westhoughton who have invested a lot of money, time and effort to develop businesses in the town centre.

"We have had businesses like The Beer School, Koo and The Kitchen — people are coming into the town and investing."