Trouble at mill means new home for training school

Ben Shaw
Ben Shaw

A training school for HGV drivers has had to slam the brakes on its association with Pendle, as there is no room at the mill.

Ben Shaw Training was told its reversing depot at Hollin Bank, Brierfield, had been compulsory purchased as part of ambitious £32m. Northlight plans to redevelop the nearby old Smith and Nephew mill.

The driver training school needed to leave the depot so work on the Northlight venture – a partnership between Barnfield Construction and Pendle Borough Council – could continue.

The company spent months scouring Pendle for an alternative site – but was unable to find a location large enough and within budget.

Bosses had approached Pendle Council about renting land at Carr Road in Nelson – home to the funfair and circus – but were told the authority’s preferred plan was to sell it.

After viewing dozens of potential sites, they found the former McBride’s factory, in Blacker Street, Burnley, was available.

Owner Ben Shaw (41) said: “We really didn’t want to leave Pendle but we had no option.

“The land off Carr Road would have been ideal and the circus and funfair could have still been held there but the council was not ready to make a decision. We had to be out of the depot that we rented by August so couldn’t wait for them to decide and risk being left homeless.

“We looked at various sites but most weren’t big enough to practise manoeuvres in the vehicles and the ones that were suitable, were just too expensive.”

Ben Shaw Training has grown year-on-year since it was established in 2005, and now has an eight-strong vehicle fleet.

A new Burnley FC in the community leisure centre and Lancashire Adult Learning’s new county headquarters will be located there, as will a four-star hotel and business units.

Ben added: “We were sad to leave but we have made the new depot our home now.

“Our offices and yard are all on one site now, which is much better for the students.”

Ben Shaw Training Ltd is a specialist in large goods vehicle and car and trailer training.

Northlight, a flagship scheme for Pendle Council, will eventually be home to several organisations when it is complete, including Lancashire Adult Learning, Burnley FC in the Community and the Leisurebox indoor sports centre, while talks are ongoing to create a hotel and other accommodation within the late Victorian building.