Plans to convert a now derelict former town centre pub into apartments have been approved by the council.

The former Crofters Arms Hotel in St George’s Road, last known as Smudges, closed around a decade ago.

An application to convert the building, which dates back to the 19th century, into flats was first approved in 2015, but the plans never came to fruition.

Now proposals by developers, Avant Garde Ltd, have been given the green light by the council to convert the pub into 18 new apartments.

Since closing, the pub has been a frequent victim of vandalism and a small fire.

An officer's report acknowledged that the plans would bring significant improvements for the town centre.

It stated: "The proposed development is considered to present a positive improvement to the area, bringing a prominent building back into use at a key gateway location into Bolton town centre.

"The proposal will not have any detrimental impact on residential amenity and sufficient car parking, bin storage and cycle parking are to be provided.

"A public realm contribution will ensure significant physical improvements to the building which in turn positively impact onto the locality. The proposal is considered to comply with both local and national policy and is therefore recommended for approval."

The pub is set to be converted into a mixture of studio, one and two bedroom apartments spread over the three floors.

Fifteen parking spaces would also be provided on the site as well as a cycle store.

Cllr Richard Silvester, Bolton Labour group's shadow member for housing and planning, said it would bring a grand former building back into use in a key area.

He said: "The building was once a grand feature of the Chorley New Road/Chorley Old Road/St Georges Road/Chorley Street junction however in recent years since the building closed as a public house, it has become dilapidated and run down with weeds and even small trees growing around the building, especially at the front and to the rear and rubbish is often fly tipped at the rear.

"The plans contained as part of the planning application look very good and the proposals would bring back into use this empty building for much needed accommodation on a brownfield site, and the building would be tidied up and renovated in the process, improving the area at its location.

"There is also car parking spaces to the rear of the building and there are bus stops within one minutes’ walk to travel towards Bolton or towards Horwich or Chorley."

Speaking to The Bolton News when these plans were first submitted, the director of Avant Garde Ltd, Amjad Khan, said that his company has spent almost half of the original cost of conversion on fixing damage to the property and paying business rates on the boarded-up building since 2015.

He said: "The discussion went on for five years. It ended up costing us quite a lot of money for the actual site itself.

"Windows were broken as people were breaking in. There was damage inside. People were ripping up the pipes.

"So it ended up going from a simple conversion to quite a complicated one.

"The whole building is bleeding money itself. We’ve wasted five years. That’s enough and we need to get it done now."