A NINETEENTH century pub built to accommodate nearby industrial workers will be replaced by eight flats, if planners agree.

The Merrie England, in St Hubert’s Road, Great Harwood, has been closed since 2006 and is in a derelict state, developers said.

A £250,000 cannabis farm was discovered there by police while it was standing empty, and the building became a magnet for vandals.

The pub, built in 1888 after a new railway loop, mills and streets of housing were constructed, was considered architecturally significant by the council, who rejected previous bids to demolish it.

But in November, the council performed a u-turn and said the demolition could go ahead.

The owner has now lodged plans for 11 self-contained flats to be built on the site, keeping the building’s existing facade, which would also be restored.

Documents lodged with Hyndburn Council’s planning department said: “The new building has been designed to be similar to the existing traditional terraced houses, employing fake house fronts on Clayton Street to hide the car parking behind the stairs at ground level.

“It is proposed that the form of the building will be very similar to the existing derelict building, as viewed from the highway, with the addition of an infill section between the house on Clayton Street.”

Great Harwood councillor Noordad Aziz said he was saddened to see the former pub’s days numbered.

He said: “It’s an historic building and if it could have been brought back into use I would have been all for it, but given the state of the building, we had to see what the best option was rather than leave it as an eyesore.

“Hopefully this will kickstart regeneration in the area but, in an ideal world, I would have liked it to have become a community facility.

“It will be a sad day when we lose it because it’s an historic building.”