A FORMER supermarket looks set to be knocked down to make way for a new health centre and library.

Plans to turn what was Tesco Metro in Little Lever into a modern new facility have been in the pipeline since the store moved from Market Street to Crossley Street at the end of 2014.

Two planning applications for the project have been approved — one in September 2016 and another in November last year — both of which involved converting the building, rather than a full rebuild.

But it is expected that Bolton Council chiefs will give the go-ahead to knock it down and start again at the next week’s cabinet meeting.

In a tweet sent to sent to Labour ward councillor David Evans, council leader Linda Thomas said: “We have listened to your concerns about a new library for Little Lever and have agreed with you it should be a new build, not a refurb. Looking forward to sharing plans with the public for this much needed facility.”

Cllr Evans said told The Bolton News he was delighted with the news — which still has to be signed off by the cabinet — adding that it was his “preferred option”.

He said: “When you are in the building game, if you start with a blank piece of paper you can bespoke it to whatever you want. In the end that made far more sense, subject to finances.”

And he defended the fact the council was “going back to the drawing board” over the plans.

He said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Rather than putting a sticking plaster on something, you’ve got the opportunity to build something more sustainable that would benefit the community in a better way.”

Referring to the challenge facing those working on the plans, he said: “They had a cube and were stuck to that design trying to make the best of a bad job. When you take a step back it makes far more sense to, rather than refurb, rebuild — it gives us far more scope.”

He added that building from scratch would be more costly than converting the former store but “not by an alarming amount” adding that a series of patch-ups would be more expensive in the long run."

But UKIP leader Sean Hornby, who also represents Little Lever, questioned why it had take until now to seemingly decide the building was not fit for the proposed purpose.

He said: “It look like that’s what’s going to happen , but the argument is ‘why have we wasted so much time over the last 18 months' to eventually come to this point where we have to demolish it?’

“They should have done some proper checks on this building. It’s virtually impossible to convert a supermarket into a modern health centre and library.

“We could have done these checks many months ago before we submitted another planning application.”

Cllr Hornby says that his UKIP group remains supportive of the project but is unimpressed residents had to put up with anti-social behaviour at the site, before the council recently took action to secure.

And unlike Cllr Evans, he believes the cost of a new build will be significantly higher, than the coversion — hiking the price-tag up from around £2.3m to in the region of £3.1m, although some money would come from Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group.

He added: “We will be very, very supportive of it , but questions need to be asked over why due diligence was not done on this building when the council originally bought it.”