A CHURCH war memorial will be saved when the historic building is demolished to make way for a new restaurant.

Councillors have approved plans from Retreat Restaurants to tear down Birtenshaw Methodist Church and convert the adjacent Bromley Cross Village Hall into a bar and grill.

Ahead of yesterday’s planning committee meeting, Sir David Crausby MP had made an appeal for a World War One memorial inside the church bearing the names of 135 local soldiers to be protected.

In response, town hall planning bosses have imposed a condition stating that no demolition work can take place at the Darwen Road site until the stained glass window, tiling and two plaques have been removed and relocated.

The Bolton North East MP said: “I’m very pleased that the committee listened to our concerns and put these conditions in place.

“On the anniversary of the end of World War One it is right that we ensure memorials survive. I will continue to monitor the progress on this.”

Retreat already operates two popular sites in Heaton and Adlington, and company bosses told the planning committee that Bromley Cross would represent ‘the best fit yet’.

Bromley Cross councillor Norman Critchley said: “When this application came in I was waiting for people to ring me to tell me some bad news. But only two did, everybody else has welcomed it and I welcome it too.”

Former council leader Cliff Morris suggested that the stained glass window which is part of the war memorial could be housed in the restaurant.

However, the applicant said it was unclear at this stage whether that would be possible.

An objector to the plan, Steve Sutton, told the committee that he fears a condition about the protection of the war memorial may not be sufficient.

His reasons included the fact that the council’s condition does not specify that the memorial is relocated in Bromley Cross itself.

Cllr Bob Allen suggested that double yellow lines need to be introduced around the venue, as has happened at the restaurant’s Heaton site in his ward.

In place of the church, Retreat plans to create a 46-space car park to serve the restaurant.

The main church hall was built in 1875 and the village hall dates back to 1888.

The closure of both buildings, in Darwen Road, was announced last year and blamed on a dwindling congregation size and lack of people to carry out jobs at the site.

Sir David, who has represented Bolton North East since 1997, previously fought to have the Dunscar war memorial listed after a developer sought to use the land for housing.