Historic Colne mill to be demolished?

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PLANS have been submitted to Pendle Council for the demolition of one of Colne’s most famous mill buildings.

Pendle Council planning officers will decide whether or not to grant consent for Spring Gardens Mill in Waterside to be demolished.

The council’s South Valley Masterplan included suggestions for new housing in the South Valley together with a new park along the riverside.

The proposal for the mill was to renovate it for apartments and workshops with new housing at the side. That plan never came to fruition after the financial crash in 2008.

Now the company wants to knock down the building, large parts of which are derelict, along with two neighbouring premises.

Spokesman Geoff Wolfenden said the application to demolish the mill was made as it was becoming increasingly difficult to keep the premises secure and safe.

He added it had not been decided on a future use for the site, but indicated it would used either for a more suitable industrial use or residential purposes.

Lancashire County Council has made a submission that the mill should be kept as a historic and important structure and has contacted English Heritage to see if it thinks the mill is worthy of “spot-listing”.

If this happens, there would then be a longer period to confirm the listing during which the demolition would be on hold.

All three major political groups in Pendle have responded to the demolition application.

l Ian Graham, Labour’s Lancashire County Council candidate for Pendle Central in which the mill stands, said it was a bitter-sweet time for Colne.

Ian Graham says: “Many residents will be pleased to see the end of these ‘dark satanic mills’ but others may regret the loss of architectural heritage.

“Demolition seems a good option and the owner can probably recoup some of the cost by recycling some of the stone and cast iron materials.  

Mr Graham said the Labour Party would not like to see industrial units built on the land and would prefer residential use with an extension of the Millennium Green to form a linear Local Nature Reserve along Colne Water.

For the Lib-Dems, Waterside ward councillor Tony Greaves said: “This is a historic mill and the five-storey building is a prominent building in the South Valley.

“It is in poor condition with the top two floors not used at all, and some of the architectural features have long gone. It is surrounded by other buildings, some in a very poor and tatty state.

“My own view is that it will be a pity to see the building go but I can now see little prospect of any improvements to the building for very many years. I very much hope our vision of new housing in the South Valley along with a new park will still come about and this would be a good site along with other land.

“I am calling for a meeting to discuss the future of this site between Colne councillors and planning staff with LBS as soon as the English Heritage decision is known.”

The Conservative leader of Pendle Council, Coun. Joe Cooney, said: “While we must recognise our heritage, we must ensure that it doesn’t stand in the way of economic growth or much needed regeneration of certain areas of Pendle.

“We as a council should be doing all we can to support local businesses and ensure we retain them in Pendle, help them expand and safeguard jobs. Yes, history is important, but so are jobs”.

The mill was built by the England family – central characters in Robert Neill’s novel “Song of Sunrise” – in the 1840s and was a cotton spinning mill for around a century.

It was taken over by Pressed Felts Ltd in 1942 and the carpeting firm operated until 1988 when it was taken over by Yorkshire firm John Cotton Ltd.

Subsequent takeovers saw American businesses Automotive Industries and Lear Corporation based at the five-storey mill before LBS Polythene expanded there from Cotton Tree in the early part of this century.