How Pendle's historic mills could be transformed into offices and homes

Pendle Council is asking people to take part in drop-in events next week in Brierfield, home to the huge regenerated Northlight Mill, and Earby, and also an online survey, saying what they think about the borough’s historic textile mills and how they might be used for new uses.

People's views will inform a 'design code' being produced by the council to help support new uses of historic textile mills that are at risk. The plan will show ways to transform mill sites to create new homes and business spaces with high-quality design and good conservation practice, Pendle Council has said.

Northlight Mill at Brierfield, formerly Brierfield Mill, is an example of an old mill being given a mix of new uses. It has become home to new uses including residential flats, offices, commercial storage, art, a textile collection., education, sports and family leisure facilities. Its redevelopment has been a joint venture between Pendle Council, developer Barnfield and others.

READ MORE: Inside the 'shockingly brilliant' £32m Northlight Brierfield mill conversion

Today, Northlight includes indoor sports faculties run by Burnley FC In The Community, a children's playground called FUNDA Land, studios for the In-Situ arts organisation and part of the huge Gawthorpe Textiles Collection, which is also based at the National Trust' Gawthorpe Hall in Padiham. The textile collection was originally established by Burnley-born philanthropist Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth. Today, a trust manages the textile collection and its activities include work with design students from Burnley College, Nelson & Colne College and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN).

Pendle Council said there are 93 textile mills in the borough and 158 across Lancashire. This project covers the mills of Pendle and will focus on a number of in-depth case studies including in Brierfield, Colne, Nelson and Barnoldswick.

Neil Watson, an assistant director with a planning remit at Pendle Council, said: “Mills were once powerhouses of the industrial revolution and have shaped the landscape of the north. Textile mills are an important part of our country’s heritage and fundamental to understanding the history and culture of the communities they sit within.

“Hundreds of textile mills still exist in the north but many are vacant or underused and at risk of loss, threatening local identity. We want to hear what people think about our historic textile mills and how they could be reused.”

Two drop-in events are taking place on Wednesday, July 10, from 11am to 2pm, at the In-Situ studios, based at The Garage, Northlight Mill, Brierfield ,and at New Road Community Centre in Earby. Views can also be submitted to the Pendle Council website. Heritage consultants and conservation architects Donald Insall Associates, in partnership with HCUK, have been commissioned to produce the design code.

Rebecca Burrows, from Insall, said: “Design codes are an exciting new planning tool that will help local communities celebrate and reuse their historic buildings. We want to understand the challenges that owners and developers are facing when managing these sites, which will allow us to provide clear, illustrative and creative guidance for a new future.”

This project represents the first time anywhere in England that a group of historic buildings or industrial sites across a district has been given a design code to promote their re-use. Organisers say the project will contribute to delivering more housing and jobs using brownfield land whilst preserving the greenbelt, as well as protecting the heritage and identity of communities in Pendle.

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