THE future of an iconic former mill could be secured if a housing scheme on the site is given the go-ahead tonight.
Persimmon Homes wants to convert the derelict Ainscough Mill in Burscough into 50 apartments and build 66 new homes on surrounding land.
The Mill Lane site proposals would see some of the later extensions to the Grade II listed main mill knocked down, while the company also wants to convert the nearby chimney house and Grade II listed mansion house to create a further six apartments as part of the development.
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The former steam-powered mill dates back to 1858 and is defined as “at-risk” by English Heritage.
A planning application to convert the mill into 58 apartments, the mansion house into three apartments and build 52 houses on the surrounding land was originally submitted in 2005.
Planning permission for the scheme was refused, and then granted on appeal – but the scheme never got off the ground. In 2010 Persimmon was granted permission to begin demolishing parts of the mill and mothballing works to prevent further deterioration to the main structure.
A total of 39 standardised responses were submitted to the current application objecting to the current scheme on grounds of noise, traffic and safety concerns and the impact on drainage, roads and the canal.
And four further letters of objection also cited concerns over the risk of flooding and the inability of the village to sustain the scale of the “overbearing” development.
Merseyside and West Lancs Bat Group said the application should be deferred until adequate surveys had been conducted as insufficient information had been supplied. But in the report that will go before councillors on the planning committee tonight, borough planner John Harrison said that previous schemes on the site had not succeeded due to a shift in the housing market and the economic situation, and the deterioration of the listed buildings had become an “ever-increasing concern” to the council and the site owner. He stated that the current application “provides a best practicable solution” to achieve a “sustainable end use of the listed buildings and secure their future repair and upkeep without significant harm to other planning interests”.
Cllr Brian Bailey, of Burscough Parish Council, said the scheme was the only real solution to preserving an iconic building in the area – and wasn’t vastly different to the one that won the appeal.
The report recommends delegating the decision to approve the scheme to the borough planner in consultation with the chairman and vice chairman of the planning committee subject to further bat survey results, and any proposed mitigation being agreed by the county ecologist, as well as agreements being made over phasing of the development and securing the management of the listed buildings.