Talks on future of Brierfield Mills

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THE battle is on to give Brierfield Mills a new life after it missed out on becoming a vocational “university”.

A meeting of key agencies, including Lancashire County Council, the Homes and Communities Agency, Pendle Council, Regenerate Pennine Lancashire, Pennine Lancashire Chief Executives’ Chairman and PEARL2 – Pendle Enterprise and Regeneration Ltd – took place on Tuesday to discuss options for the Brierfield cotton mill complex.

And it could be taken over from a Muslim charity through a Compulsory Purchase Order.

The important group of Grade II listed buildings was for years the home of Smith and Nephew, and provided employment for hundreds of local people in its heyday.

It was acquired two years ago by Islamic Help, who planned to convert it into a large Islamic Academy for Girls. This plan was abandoned, alternative uses were being pursued and the council has been investigating possible purchase with a view to a variety of new uses.

However, a bid to secure Regional Growth Fund for the site was not successful and the site also lost out as the location for the new University Technical College, which will be run by Nelson-based Training 2000 but is now expected to be in the Weavers’ Triangle area of Burnley.

Negotiations have subsequently broken down with the current owners.

Given that Pendle Council has invested substantial amounts into major improvements in the area, including the successful conversion of the former Lob Lane Mill into the Quaker Heights housing development, there is great concern Brierfield Mills should not be allowed to deteriorate further, and intervention is felt to be necessary.

The meeting concluded:

A multi-agency approach was needed to secure both funding and the comprehensive regeneration of the buildings.

Early action to acquire the buildings at a reasonable price. This would include the option of initiating a Compulsory Purchase Order.

Preparation work for a business and master plan to be undertaken urgently.

All agencies to review progress in December.

Mr Dennis Mendoros, chairman of Pendle Vision Board, who convened the meeting, said: “We were naturally disappointed Brierfield Mills has not been chosen either for Regional Growth Fund investment or the University Technical College site.

“However, it is important options for this important and at-risk building are considered by agencies who can bring about comprehensive regeneration of such an important site.”

Coun. Mike Blomeley, leader of Pendle Council who also attended the meeting, said: “Urgent action is required to secure the future of this impressive and important building and I welcome the initiative of the chairman of Pendle Vision Board in bringing together key agencies.

“Pendle Council will play its part in securing the future of the building.”