RESTAURANT and bar chain Retreat have opened their new branch, after spending more than £1 million transforming an old village hall.

The Bromley Cross venue has already taken almost 3,000 bookings for the first three weeks, despite only opening on Monday.

All Friday and Saturdays for the rest of the year are fully booked, as are Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve.

It is the third Retreat branch to open and has been built inside the old village hall, in Darwen Road.  Birtenshaw Methodist Church, which was next door, has also been demolished to make way for a 48 space car park.

Owner, Richard Hibbert  said it’s been quite a difficult process to get the restaurant finished due to initial concerns by local residents, but he is convinced once people see it, they will love it.

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He said: “I think when they’ve seen what we’ve done and how sympathetic the builders have been - using a lot of the stone that was on the cladding of the church to build the extension to the village hall - I think they’ll realise we’ve done a good job.”