THE new owners of one of Burnley’s most historic buildings have reassured residents its redevelopment will, they say, preserve and improve the setting.
Married couple Richard Hume and Dr Domenica Schiel, who own AVS Estates, are turning Coal Clough House into a nursery which, they say, will eventually improve the area.
Their business was criticised recently by Coal Clough Community Group who claimed trees had been cut down from the site without permission – something the couple strenuously deny.
Mr Hume (37) said: “One of the first things that attracted us to this site was the natural beauty. One of the reasons that attracted us was the tree cover. We have spent a fortune in tree surveys.
“We searched all over the region as we have always wanted to open a nursery but set our heart on Coal Clough House.
“The only trees felled were unhealthy and dying. We have planted new trees and are spending a lot of money in renovating the house and improving the grounds. We are using sustainable materials throughout and are more than happy to speak to residents and show them round.”
Coal Clough House, built in 1638 as a farmhouse, has had a chequered history in recent years becoming a pub in 1978, then later a hotel and restaurant. A major fire gutted the building in 2004.
Richard and Domenica say they are determined to make a success of their business when it opens in September.
Mr Hume added: “I have a background in international education and Domenica in educational research.
“I want to reassure residents we are here for the long run. We have appointed a local nursery manager and hope to create 20 to 30 jobs eventually.
“The site had become a target for vandals in recent years. It is much better to be occupied and used for good. There will be triple glazing throughout and the gardens will be landscaped.”
Planning permission is also in place for six detached homes and two semi-detached houses on the site, but no work or plans have been drawn up yet for these.
Mr Hume added: “We are keeping our options open at the moment regarding the homes.
“We just want to concentrate on the nursery for the foreseeable future.”