Workington town centre residents are calling for action over a historical building which “has been left to rot”.

Members of St John’s Ward Residents Association want something to be done about the old Opera House building on Ladies Walk.

It has stood empty since 2004 and now residents say it is infested with rats and pigeons, dead and alive, and the roof is severely damaged.

Olwen Lintott, 69, lives on Ladies Walk, and says the area around the building attracts antisocial behaviour.

She said: “The doors were boarded up but they’ve been damaged and homeless people are sleeping there.

“There’s smell coming through the windows of dead pigeons, and residents have seen rats on this bit of road.”

Mrs Lintott believes that if the building was turned into houses or knocked down it would not attract antisocial behaviour.

She said residents regularly witness drug-taking and people gathering to drink behind the building.

She added the former Flames club nearby, which has also stood empty for some time, is attracting antisocial behaviour too. Residents would like to see the area tidied up and a plaque being placed on Ladies Walk to celebrate its history. It is believed this was the route Mary Queen Of Scots walked when she came to Workington and was a guest of the Curwen family.

Mrs Lintott said: “Our biggest bugbear is the old Opera House – it’s an eyesore and it’s right in the middle of the town. If it was in Cockermouth or Keswick it would have been dealt with straight away. It’s not fair because we’re just as important as other towns.”

Kath Goodwin, chairman of the residents’ association, said: “The issue is that the building is empty and people know it is.” Residents believe Allerdale should enforce improvements.

The building is now owned by PGC Demolition. A company spokesman said they were trying to sell it on and had no plans to carry out any work on it.

An Allerdale council spokesman said: “In all planning enforcement cases the council prefers to resolve the issue with property owners, without the need for any formal action. As such we have written to the owners of the building in the first instance. If there are no improvements then the council also has powers under section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act to take action against property owners.”