An historic church in the centre of Preston is set to be transformed into a restaurant and bar, after plans were given the green light.
The Grade II listed Fishergate Baptist Church is to be given a facelift, including the creation of a mezzanine floor, after Town Hall chiefs granted planning permission and listed building consent.
City leaders have described the news as “fantastic”, while planning experts say it will revitalise an empty building.
Property developer Paul Rowley has been granted permission for the conversion of the church into a restaurant and public house, and is now seeking an operator to move in to the building.
Mr Rowley, who is chief executive and owner of Leyland-based Rowland Homes, said: “It’s likely to become a restaurant and bar, but we don’t plan to operate it ourselves.
“We are just going to facilitate it from a building investment point of view.”
He said there was a lot of interest from potential operators, and said: “We hope to get something off the ground within the next couple of months.
“We are keen to move on with it, and I think it will make a fantastic venue.
“I think it could suit such a wide variety of operators.”
Town centre councillor Drew Gale said: “It’s yet more evidence that Preston is on the up and open for business.
“It is a very welcome addition to the night-time economy. It’s a lovely building, it could be a fabulous building.
“I think it will be fantastic.”
A report from planning officers at Preston Council said the church had been closed for more than five years and said: “The proposed change of use would bring a vacant building back into use and the proposal would not result in the loss of an actively used community asset.”
It said the proposals would “preserve the character and appearance of the conservation area, and the important features of the listed building”.
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