A former cotton mill in Chorley is to be partially demolished as part of a plan to convert it into apartments.
The building on Standish Street dates back more than a hundred years and was most recently used as a printworks.
Chorley Council’s planning committee gave the go-ahead to the proposal which will see the wings of the building taken down, but the main part of the structure – including the chimney – retained.
Committee member Cllr Danny Gee said that he was happy to approve the plan, because the heritage asset had begun to look “very tired and needs something doing with it”.
Three new floors will be created to replace the demolished sections of the building, but planning officers concluded that the style of the proposed replacement was a “pastiche” of the original and would not be acceptable. Conditions have now been imposed which mean that all of the external materials will have to be submitted for separate approval by the authority.
A report to the committee said that “an honest approach” was required “to show a distinction between the original building and the new extensions”
“Generally, this is considered to be best served by the use of a contemporary yet sympathetic design or materials,” the report noted.
The mill does not have any local and or national designated heritage status, but members were told that the loss of the western wing – described as “characterful and prominent” on entering Standish Street – was “regrettable”. However, the overall development was considered to be an improvement on the building in its current state.
Thirty-seven parking spaces will be provided as part of the plans, but one committee member feared that would fall short of what was required.
“The officers seem to think that because it’s a town centre development, people won’t be using cars as much, but I’m sure some [of the occupants] could even have two cars – and Standish Street is a nightmare for parking as it is,” said Cllr Eric Bell.
The meeting heard that the parking space allocated was acceptable due to the “highly sustainable” town centre location of the development.
Meanwhile, the applicant, Michael Almond, has told the council that the financial viability of the scheme is “marginal” – and that it could not sustain any affordable housing element nor the full range of other contributions to infrastructure which might otherwise be required. The authority agreed with that assessment and a contribution to public open space is all which will now be demanded.