PLANS to restore a popular Farnworth landmark have taken a significant step forward.

A rejuvenated Rock Hall will feature a community cafe and a wedding venue as Bolton Council has made the future of the building a major priority.

The building was built in 1807 for the Crompton family. They were local paper makers who established one of the first paper mills in Lancashire in 1676.

The area, once known as Farnworth Bridges, was an important industrial site and the mills’ proprietors were responsible for revolutionising the paper making process.

More than two centuries on, discussions have led to social enterprise Banana Enterprise Network expressing an interest in taking on the building.

Since then, the team has made a great deal of progress and is awaiting the final decision on a £99,600 bid to the National Heritage Lottery Fund.

If successful, this would fund the next phase of a renovation project which would enable Bolton Council to transfer the asset to the charity.

Under their plans, Rock Hall would be expanded back to its original size and incorporate a café, shop, wedding venue and heritage room alongside its training facilities.

Set up by Jayne and Christopher Allman, Banana Enterprise Network aims to reduce poverty by supporting and training people to become self-employed.

It works with around 250 unemployed people a year and was named one of the 10 fastest growing social enterprises by NatWest.

Since last year, the team has undertaken a feasibility study on Rock Hall and engaged with the community via a Facebook page. A five-year business plan has been drafted and the team has researched the Crompton family, which once owned the building.

Jayne Allman, Banana's CEO, said: “We want to create new learning opportunities for the community by establishing a TB Crompton Academy of Excellence and Enterprise programme for all ages."

Cllr Martyn Cox, council deputy leader, added: “The council will continue to work closely with Banana Enterprise Network to develop these plans and I am confident we will preserve Rock Hall for many generations to come.”