A part of Huddersfield’s industrial heritage - labelled a “Sleeping Giant” - could be about to get a new lease of life.
Developers wanting to convert the Newsome Mills site into a residential project have indicated that work is due to commence in 2016.
The firm cannot give a precise date but it will mean an end to seven years of campaigning for the former mill to be regenerated.
The mill is a landmark building visible from many parts of the town, with a prominent clock tower.
But over the years it has fallen into decay and dereliction and has prompted local campaigners to fight for it to be restored.
Newsome Mills is a listed building recognised by the Victorian Society.
One of those behind the campaign has been Clr Andrew Cooper and he is delighted with the news.
He said: “I have been contacting the owners of the site, Royalle Estates, at regular intervals to ask about progress.
“They weren’t able to give a firm commencement date but were clear that work was to start this coming year. So it is our job as local councillors to keep them to that.
“The Mills are a valued, but deteriorating listed building and the clock tower is an iconic landmark for the area. I’ll be continuing to press for progress.”
Planning permission was initially granted to Royalle Estates in 2009. The approval from Kirklees Council was to refurbish the Mills to include 48 apartments and to build 20 houses on the land to the rear.
In recent years the council has released the developers from an obligation to contribute to social housing as a way of helping to reduce costs and encourage them to commence work. The downturn in the housing market particularly for flats, has been blamed as one reason why Newsome Mills has not yet commenced development.
A spokesman for Manchester-based Royalle said: “I can confirm we have told the council we will start in 2016 but can give no more details at the minute”.
Clr Cooper added: “I voted at Planning Committee to release the developers form their social housing obligation as I recognised the need to get the building developed before it deteriorated much further.
“Since then I and my fellow Ward Councillors have reported numerous breaches of the perimeter fence by people trying to get into the building and sometimes succeeding.
“There have been some uninformed comments scrawled on the outside of the Mills blaming the council for the deterioration of the building. If this was the case I would be the first to try to get Kirklees to act. The reality is that it is down to the developers to commence work.
“The bizarre element to this situation is that Kirklees are currently consulting on the possibility of development on greenfield sites In Newsome while we have brownfield sites with planning permission not being developed.”
- Newsome Mills sits at the heart of Newsome – both geographically and historically.
- The mill was founded by John Taylor in 1827 and was a working woollen textile mill right up until 1983.
- During the 156 years of its operation, the mill made a significant contribution to Newsome. The village has grown around the mill, which was the main local employer for a long time. Many families who live in Newsome today have a direct relationship to the building.
- The main building on the site is an impressive four-storey mill with a clock tower on top
- This building was constructed in the 1880s, and replaced an earlier mill building that was lost to fire in 1872.
- The mill is most familiarly associated with the firm of Taylor & Littlewood, formed in 1873 when Ephraim Beaumont Taylor went into partnership with Joshua Littlewood.