AN old school building in Leigh town centre has been saved from demolition – but the developer now has "no option" but to board up the 19th Century property.

Plans to knock down the former King Street School building to make way for a new four-storey block with 29 flats have been thrown out by Wigan council.

Owner John Littler, who bought the building back in 2013, wanted to turn it into a state-of-the-art boxing club and offer the remaining space to charities.

But he was "unaware" of the scale of the work required, his representative said.

Speaking on behalf of Mr Littler at a planning committee meeting this week, Damon Musgrove said the building is in a "serious state of disrepair".

He told councillors it could cost around £800,000 to bring the building up to the standards required to realise Mr Littler’s long-term vision for the site.

But council officers, who recommended that the committee refuses the application, said they have not seen any evidence of structural issues.

They also told the committee that legal agreements regarding affordable housing and financial contributions had not been signed – but Mr Musgrove said these issues had been resolved with the local authority in November.

Leigh Journal: The former King Street school in Leigh (JLP Partners)

He said: “Mr Littler will have no option but to board up the building and appeal the decision if planning [permission] is not granted.

“This option, however, is not the preferred option as it will potentially increase anti-social behaviour and will see an already dangerous building fall into an even more serious state of dilapidation.”

The Gothic revival style building, which is in a conservation area, was an infant and junior school until the 1980s and was later occupied by Leigh College.

Since the turn of the 21st century, the premises has been used as a children’s nursery and, most recently, it was used as a fitness centre with a boxing gym.

Mr Musgrove said the applicant had been told that the protected status of the site would be withdrawn, pointing to the recent development of an Aldi store, a commercial property and accommodation within the conservation area.

He added: “If this had not been the case and we had been told that the demolition of the rebuild would not be able to take place, why would John have carried on spending thousands of pounds continuing to work with planning officers completing the relevant documents.”

Leigh East councillor Fred Walker said he has "real reservations" about the site, which is in the ward he represents, being designated as a conservation area.

But the committee was told it should not factor this into its decision regarding the application before them as the site remains in a conservation area for now.

Councillors on the committee voted unanimously to refuse the application.

Coun Walker said: “I would not be against a fresh application with the right paperwork.”