PLANS to transform the former Blackburn Royal Infirmary’s dilapidated War Memorial Wing into a £3.8 million residential care centre are in the pipeline.

Ideal Care Homes hopes to develop the site into a 64 bed, three-storey home by summer 2014.

If the health service provider is granted permission, the 84-year-old wing built by public subscription to commemorate the dead of the First World War, could be demolished next summer.

Since the original plans for the site stalled three years ago, the imposing building has been targeted by thieves and vandals till it decayed into an unsafe eyesore.

The planned home will offer pensioners ‘extra care and support’ and the new proposal follows the start of building work to turn the rest of the old infirmary site into a £10.6 million 123 homes housing estate.

Andrew Long, for Ideal Care said: “This is an exciting project for Blackburn.

“If we get the go ahead we will be investing £3.8 million and creating between 50 and 60 jobs within the local community. As with each of Idea Care Homes 34 centres, we will be able to offer anyone who needs a place, a place regardless of their financial means.

“Unfortunately, the existing hospital building is not fit for purpose and with it being left open to the elements it would cost a vast amount of money to make it functional.”

Professor David Smalley, president of Blackburn Darwen and Rural Civic Voice, said: “This is an acceptable compromise, better than a bingo hall.

“It should have something included commemorating why it was built to save lives in memory of those who died in the First World War.”

Ewood Coun Maureen Bateson, said: “I am really pleased to hear about plans for this much needed development.

“So far they have received really positive feedback that will add to the developments already taking place on this site.” Borough social care chief Mohammed Khan said: “The council is keen on any plans that will provide high quality housing for older people in the borough.

“We will be very interested to see the detailed proposals which will have to go through the proper channels.”

Blackburn MP Jack Straw said: “This is a welcome development which reflects the building’s original purpose.”