MORE than 200 people are set to join a protest against demolishing the decaying War Memorial wing of the former Blackburn Royal Infirmary.

They are urging the borough council to refurbish the 86-year-old building as a home for the elderly rather than demolish it so a new £4.8million dementia care home can be built.

Shadsworth photographer Michael Duckworth has organised the demonstration via Facebook outside the wing at 10 am on August 30.

So far 163 people have said they will attend the ‘Save The Old Infirmary - A Peaceful Protest’ event with another 56 hoping to join.

Earlier this month Blackburn with Darwen planning committee approved the development for 64 frail elderly people by specialist charity Community Integrated Care (CIC).

The wing, the borough’s ‘biggest eyesore’, has slowly decayed.

Council and CIC bosses said the building is too damaged to be salvaged and its heritage was being preserved in the new scheme.

Mr Duckworth, aged 27 from Ailsa Road, said: “This is a historic building which should be saved for future generations.

“The £4.8 million for the new development could have paid for the memorial wing to be restored and used for the care of dementia sufferers.

“We want the council and CIC to look at this again.”

Councillors have ordered a replica of the original mosaic floor along with its foundation stones to be sited in a special memorial garden.

Blackburn, Darwen and Rural Civic Voice secretary Simon Hugill said: “Sadly this protest is too late. If it had happened four years ago, the wing might have been saved.”

Council regeneration boss Maureen Bateson, said: “I am as sad as anyone the wing cannot be saved but it is too decayed and vandalised. The new care home will fulfil its original purpose.”

CIC deputy chief executive Catherine Murray-Howard said: “We have been working closely with the council. We appreciate this is a historic building, which many people care about. Every assessment has shown that sadly, it is now damaged beyond repair.

“We have sought to celebrate the heritage of the Royal Infirmary by salvaging many of the historic artefacts and using them in a public garden.”