A ONCE-THRIVING town centre pub which closed nearly a year ago could be converted into shops and apartments.

Plans have been submitted to transform the grade II listed former Flying Flute, in Bradshawgate, into seven maisonettes, one bedsit and a trio of commercial units.

The proposals, lodged by Asif Patel, Raisfuel Ltd would see the ground floor of the ornate building — originally named the Fleece Hotel — divided into three business spaces, with the two upper-floor housing four flats each.

However a design and access statement from agent Good and Tillotson, which accompanies the application, states “minimal changes” are planned for the outside of the building.

And while noting that it sits within “the heart of Bolton’s night-time economy”, it says that demand for such venues is on the wane in the area.

And Russell Woods of the Bolton-based architects said the proposed development was in line with current efforts to breathe new life into town centres.

He said: “Bradshawgate isn’t short of pubs and clubs and the like and if you are looking to regenerate any town centre, take Manchester as an example, you will find you have commercial uses on the ground floors and the upper floors are converted to residential use to promote town centre living.”

He added: “We have got to get people living in our town centres and diversify in order to keep them alive. Take Bradshawgate as an example, if you take a walk down you there, you could identify numerous upper floors that are unused and the question is ‘what can they be used for’, and the answer is either office space or residential.

“ If we can get people living in upper floors it benefits the town centre economy and works for everybody.”

Mr Woods said that, rather than diminished, the apperance of the building could be improved as a result of the scheme.

The sign for the Kiko Club which was based on the first floor, will be removed and the rear area, will be “cleaned up”, with the external escape staircase being removed, and

window openings reinstated.

The history of The Flying Flute, which sits within the Deansgate conservation area, and its significance to Bolton is set out in a heritage statement

It states: “The building forms a key component of the conservation area and is a symbol of the new wave of ornate decorative buildings created in Bolton in the early 20th century.

And it adds that, while the building has been “much altered internally and externally” over the decades,

“ Although much altered internally and externally it remains a structure of some importance.

It adds “The Flying Flute is no less a significant building and is a positive presence on the street scene and wider townscape. It forms an interesting composition with other buildings of a similar age.

“Overall the significance of the building is primarily its ornate external appearance, its position on Bradshawgate and its wider relationship with the growth and development of Bolton town centre”