PLANS to renovate a historic building have been hailed as “the start of the renaissance” of a Wirral town.

Councillors gave their seal of approval to the Grade II-listed Hesketh Hall in Port Sunlight being converted into 13 self-contained flats.

The borough’s planning committee made the unanimous decision on Tuesday night.

Lionel Bolland, chief executive of Port Sunlight Village Trust, said the outcome now means the building can be saved from disrepair.

He said: “The decision to grant the Trust permission has given us the opportunity to put some sensible together plans to save Hesketh Hall.

"It needs major work doing to it and it is very good news for nearby New Ferry in the long term.

“The building occupies a very prominent position and it will look fantastic.

"I believe this could herald the start of the renaissance of New Ferry town centre.”

The Trust said Hesketh Hall - named after business mogul William Hesketh Leverthe, first Lord Leverhulme – was at risk because the caretaker occupiers the Royal British Legion did not have the resources to carry out maintenance.

Council planners, who recommended approval for the project, stated in their report that: "It is considered that the renovation and re-use of this building is likely to have a positive impact on the adjoining New Ferry town centre and wider area."

The proposals highlighted there would be significant changes to the interior configuration of the building but many of its original features would be encased or retained as part of the conversion.

It is hoped work on the building will get underway within the next six to nine months.

Mr Bolland added: “I will be working very hard to ensure the charitable arm of the British Legion can continue their important work.

“We are hoping we will have contractors working on the site by the end of this year.”