Historic mill’s apartment blueprints ‘are the only option’ say planning experts

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Plans to convert a 200-year-old mill into flats and houses have been recommended for approval by planning officers, despite fierce opposition.

Hermitage Mill is the subject of a major application which will be discussed by Mansfield District Council’s planning department next week.

Made up of councillors, the committee will ultimately make the final decision, yet planning experts suggest the blueprints are acceptable.

It would be for 25 one and two-bedroom apartments within the mill on Hermitage Lane, along with 32 two-storey three-bedroom detached homes in the grounds.

As part of a report to be put before planners on Monday evening, it reads: “Given the character and location of the site within a predominantly commercial area, the principle of residential development on the site would not normally be considered acceptable.

“In this instance it has been demonstrated that residential development is the only viable use to enable the refurbishment and reuse of an ‘at risk’ Grade II-listed building.”

The application has been criticised by preservationists, particularly Historic England who say it will “harm the architectural and historic significance of the mill”.

Others include the Environment Agency which outlined flooding issues and The Georgian Group also suggests it “fails to provide an adequate analysis of the building’s significance”.

Hermitage Mill Trust - who harbour ambitions of transforming the mill into a visitor attraction - have also lodged disdain for the plans.

Member Bill Taylor said: “It would cause significant harm to the mill and is a grotesque development.”

Built in 1782 as a water-powered mill to produce textiles, it was the first built on the River Maun.

Set back against Hermitage Road, the mill started life as a cotton-spinning factory and by 1848 was manufacturing high-quality embroidery thread for the world-renowned company, Taylor’s of Leicester.

By 1894, hosiery manufacturers Samuel Eden & Son was leasing the mill, and eventually bought it from the Portland Trustees in 1912.

However, the mill was sold to Clumber Building Supplies in the 1950s, which in turn sold it to Buildbase.

The firm ceased trading in 2008, and the historic building has been left derelict ever since.