FIRE crews were called to tackle a bonfire started at a former garden centre in Bromley Cross on Sunday night.

It is believed that the fire at the site of the former Holland Gardening Centre in Darwen Road was started deliberately by youths, who piled together wood and other debris before setting it alight.

Bromley Cross councillor, David Greenhalgh said: “It’s a nightmare and a real concern. It is totally unacceptable that youths are getting into the site and causing havoc.”

The building, which is derelict, did not suffer any damage.

Crews from Bolton North, Bolton Central and Horwich arrived at 8pm and stayed for 30 minutes, to extinguish the flames and ensure the smoke had cleared.

A GMFRS spokesman said: “The fire did not affect the structure of the building, just the rubbish. The building is fairly large and all open plan within.

“This was not the first time we had a bonfire within the building, which is derelict and has been out of use for some time.

“This is one of a number of fires started within the garden centre and we suspect, as before, it was youths, who have been congregating around the area.

“It seems to be an area that young people use as somewhere to go and hangout.”

Cllr Greenhalgh said he would be meeting with police and the owner of the site this week to ensure the site is made fully secure.

The blaze is the latest incident in the chequered history of the site.

At one time it was suggested that football pitches could be formed on the huge swathe of green belt land at the back of the former nursery site, but the vision did not materialise.

In 2007 Bromley Cross Football Club was granted permission to create a campus of eight or more grassroots pitches, complete with clubhouse and changing rooms. The scheme came about through an agreement drafted between the owner of Hollands Nursery, Don Faulkner, and the club, but relations between the two collapsed in 2013.

In September, 2014 a new vision was unveiled for a multi-million pound sports village, including all-weather pitches and a gym, as well as an Aldi supermarket and a Touchwood restaurant.

That proposal came from Justin Stannard and his firm Bromley Cross Developments Ltd, which earmarked 27 acres of land at the Darwen Road site and was understood to have entered “advanced talks” with the owners to buy the site. But Hollands went into receivership in February, 2015 and David Currie was appointed the LPA Receiver for the site.

nGMFRS urged parents and guardians to make sure they know where their children are, and what they are up to during the evening, to help avoid similar incidents.