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Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Council acts to make dangerous Congleton mill building safe for the town

 

Acting under emergency powers, Cheshire East Council is to demolish Bossons Mill in Congleton because of major safety concerns about the stability of its structure.

The Council has been advised the building is in danger of collapse and has informed the owners Kitewood that emergency works must be carried out on the seven-storey former silk mill and that this will take the form of demolition.

Cheshire East Council has proceeded under a Section 78 Notice under the Building Act 1984 after a last-ditch appeal to the owners to make the 200 year old building safe.

Emergency works were carried out by the Council last autumn after Kitewood failed to carry out the work themselves.

The Council has had to take immediate action owing to the condition of the structure.

Letters have been delivered to nearby residents urging them to take up temporary accommodation.

The old mill, also known as Big Mill and Brook Mill, has been empty for around 20 years and has been exposed to the elements, leading to rotted beams, floors and internal load-bearing structures.

As the building is Grade II listed, the Council has taken the appropriate steps to inform Historic England that it was left with no option but to take remedial action.

Councillor Ainsley Arnold, Cabinet member for housing and planning said: “The Council has made numerous attempts to resolve this problem, but without the cooperation of the owners of the building we were left with no option but to take this emergency action.

“The owners have allowed this piece of Congleton’s history to deteriorate to such an extent that it has become an eyesore and a danger to our residents.

“We put our residents and businesses first and must now send in contractors to deal with this risk through demolition.”

The Council commissioned expert structural engineers to examine the building.

Their 26-page report concluded it was too dangerous to allow workers to operate from inside and that the building was in danger of collapse, which could be brought about by prolonged rain or high winds.

The report said: “These works are now urgent as continuing deterioration will result in uncontrolled collapse; the timing of such collapse is indeterminate but could readily occur in the near future.”

Councillor Arnold added: “It is a great pity that a building of this character, which has long been a part of the town’s industrial heritage, should be lost in this way.

“As a Council we have to act in the interests of our residents and businesses and have taken action to protect them.

“We will take steps to recover our costs on behalf of our residents.”

Bossons Mill was last in use for manufacturing in the 1990s but the company ceased operating there in December 1996.

At one time it was one of 20 working silk mills busily producing silk attire for the Victorians.

Historic England commented “We’re extremely disappointed that a significant part of Brooks Mill has deteriorated to the extent that it needs to be demolished.

“We have been actively working with Cheshire East Council for over a year to try to save Brooks Mill, by providing technical support and exploring funding options.

“Now, in the interests of public safety, we accept that the council has to use emergency powers to address serious structural problems.

“We will continue to work closely with the Council to advise them on the future of the site, focussing on finding solutions for what remains of the listed building and for the Congleton West Conservation Area.

“This aptly demonstrates the threats that historic buildings can face when they’re not being used and sadly, this is not an isolated case: our region’s historic mills, once the powerhouses of the North West, are challenging buildings to re-use and are increasingly falling into disrepair.”

Council officials are due to meet with demolition contractors this week to discuss the way forward.

Contractors moved in on the site on Tuesday (June 14) to assess the measures required prior to commencing demolition.

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