|Green Party Cllrs Karen Allison, Andrew Cooper and Julie Stewart-Turner outside Newsome Mills|
The developers of the Newsome Mills site have indicated that work is due to commence on converting the Mills to apartments in 2016.
Councillor Andrew Cooper has been contacting the owners of the site, Royalle Estates, at regular intervals to ask about progress
“They weren’t able to give a firm commencement date but were clear that work was to start this coming year. So it is our job as local Councillors to keep them to that. The Mills are a valued, but deteriorating listed building and the clock tower is an iconic landmark for the area. I’ll be continuing to press for progress” said Cllr Cooper
Planning permission was initially granted to Royalle Estates in 2009. This was permission to refurbish the Mills to include 48 apartments and to build 20 houses on the land to the rear. In recent years the Council has released them from an obligation to contribute to social housing as a way of helping to reduce the developers costs and encourage them to commence work. The downturn in the housing market particularly for flats, has been blamed as one reason why Newsome Mills has not yet commenced development.
“I voted at Planning Committee to release the developers form their social housing obligation as I recognised the need to get the building developed before it deteriorated much further. Since then I and my fellow Ward Councillors have reported numerous breaches of the perimeter fence by people trying to get into the building and sometimes succeeding.” Said Cllr Cooper
“There have been some uninformed comments scrawled on the outside of the Mills blaming the Council for the deterioration of the building. If this was the case I would be the first to try to get Kirklees to act. The reality is that it is down to the developers to commence work. The bizarre element to this situation is that Kirklees are currently consulting on the possibility of development on greenfield sites In the Newsome Ward while we have brownfield sites with planning permission not being developed”
Newsome Mills is a listed building recognised by the Victorian Society.