A historic Mansfield town centre building which has stood empty for years could soon be set to reopen – as a pub food training academy.
The Old Town Mill, on Bridge Street, was known as a live music venue.
Now, following a public consultation in 2016, it will reopen as a pub food training academy – which will also provide freshly-cooked meals at a reasonable price – run by Charnwood Training Group.
The £1.7 million project will see the upper floors opened as a 16-room bed-and-breakfast facility, run by the students, enabling visitors to stay in an historic environment close to the town centre.
It is hoped the business will employ 20 staff and train 50 students each year.
The business will be run by a not-for-profit company called Pub School Inns CIC, to ensure money is available for the future care of the building.
Mansfield Business Improvement District obtained a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to determine what restoration work was needed and the price of such work, along with the costs of making the building viable for a new business.
Sarah Nelson, Mansfield BID manager, said: “Proposed developments such as this show there is so much positive news around, with people wanting to invest in Mansfield town centre.
“It is also pleasing to see a business is thinking not only about heritage, but also about skills and training.
“This can only be positive news for Mansfield and the community and we are delighted to be playing a part in making it happen.
“There are some wonderful businesses on Church Street and Bridge Street, so this will certainly be welcome, particularly in light of Post Office’s recent decision to relocate from Church Street.”
HLF bosses have now invited Charnwood to apply for a grant to help achieve its aims.
The grant application is due to be submitted in February, with the results announced in June.
Denis Hill, a heritage consultant working with BID, said: “The Old Town Mill could be a viable asset to the town and help boost the economy of the area.
“The food and drink industry is one which is constantly expanding and their qualification will enable students to continue on to further educational courses or seek employment.”
As part of the proposals, schools and members of the public will be asked to research the history of the Old Town Mill, as well as others across Mansfield, to create a mill heritage trail.
Memories and images of times gone by at the mill, will be displayed around the premises once work is completed.