A NEW housing scheme designed specifically for local residents has been officially opened in Marsden.

The opening of the 13-home project was commemorated when Cath Elliott of charity Cuckoos Nest cut the tape at Ancion Court, Clough Lea. This was followed by an old fashioned garden party with lunch, lawn games and live music.

The scheme was built by registered social landlord Connect Housing Association. Applications were only accepted from people aged over 55 who had some connection with the local area.

A spokesman for Connect said: “Marsden is the last village in the Colne Valley before everything rises to windy moorland.

“Though the area is picturesque on a sunny day, the steep hillsides, bleak moors and harsh winter weather can make life difficult for older residents, cutting them off from the community.

“Ancion Court is a valley-level housing scheme. Its aim is to help residents improve their quality of life whilst remaining in Marsden.”

The homes all have co-friendly ground source heat pumps, which have been incorporated to keep residents’ utility bills low.

The houses occupy the site of the former Robinson’s Mill, later called Clough Lea Mills, which dates back to 1860.

The mill was bought in 1934 by Belgian firm Bailley-Ancion, which gave the scheme its name. It employed some 200 workers in wool scouring, dyeing and bleaching.

In 1946, managing director Mr J D Bailley was appointed Belgian consul for the West Riding of Yorkshire, making Marsden the home of the Belgian Consulate.

The mill closed in the 1990’s and was demolished in 2001.