Emergency Imperial Mill repairs to fix roof and windows of historic building

The state of Imperial Mill's windows
-Credit: (Image: LDRS)

Emergency roof and window repairs to Blackburn’s historic Imperial Mill are set to be given the go-ahead by councillors. The imposing building on Gorse Street needs urgent repairs to ‘structurally unsound’ elements.

It was bought by Blackburn with Darwen Council in February last year to be transformed into an employment and cultural hub. Now the authority’s planning committee has been urged to approve a major programme of works when it meets on Thursday night.

The councillors have been recommended to grant planning permission and listed building consent for the repairs.

A report to the meeting says: “The proposed developments are in relation to a programme of works regarding the structurally unsafe elements of Imperial Mill, in this particular case, the main roof, windows and rainwater goods of the mill building. Members will recall that applications were presented to the April and May meetings for the proposed demolition of those elements to the mill building, which pose a serious risk to health and safety.

“Members are advised that the works the subject of the applications presented to the meeting, are the third element of a programme of regeneration which will restore the important listed Imperial Mill building. The application site is a Grade II listed building four storeys in height that is currently in a state of disrepair.

“Imperial Mill was formally opened in 1901 as a cotton mill, with spinning in the mill ceasing in 1980. The proposal solely consists of works to the roof, windows and rainwater goods, which are currently leaking and in a fragile state.

“Urgent repairs are needed to prevent further structural issues, which will include boarding up windows with Perspex sheeting where the frames are rotten due to the constant exposure to the weather. The windows that are identified as blown out or at risk of falling will be prioritised until the long-term repairs or replacements have been agreed.

“The mill’s roof structure is also suffering from severe water ingress and therefore is becoming increasingly structurally unsound. The proposed works will ensure the roof areas are kept watertight.

“The rainwater goods (downpipes) are blocked throughout, and the proposal is to replace all the rainwater goods to ensure surface water can drain efficiently from the roof areas. The issue to be considered from a heritage aspect is whether the proposal would harm the special interest/significance of Imperial Mill as a whole.

“It is considered that the repairs to the main deck of the roof will have little or no impact on the significance of the listed building. With regards to the windows, it is fully acknowledged the need and urgency to provide a watertight envelope and appearance to the building.

“The insertion of the Perspex sheeting will be of a short-term benefit to the building. From a heritage perspective this is not the preferred option, which would see the proper repair and replacement of the existing timber windows.

“The works also are only temporary with a long-term vision to restore the building including the windows to their former glory.”