Start of work on the site of the old Darwen mill which “poisons the village”

A DEVELOPER acquired a large abandoned mill in the moors to transform it into an estate of 79 houses in what has been described as a “big blow in the arm” for a pretty suburban village.

Earlier this year, councilors unanimously approved the redevelopment of the former Vernon Crus Mill site near the village of Hoddlesden with one, two and three bedroom houses.

Now developer Kingswood Homes has acquired the site with plans for the first units to be completed by the end of 2022.

But Kingswood Homes chief executive Paul Jones revealed the deal barely came through.

He said: “The factory closed in 2003 and has been abandoned after a fire in 2008 which became a sore eye. It had been identified as a potential site for housing but blocked for various reasons.

“This fall, we had agreed to purchase the site and committed a great deal of resources and effort to the deal, agreeing to trade-in and completion dates based on our funding facility.

“Then eight weeks after the deal was originally made, we were spotted by a national home builder who offered the landowner better payment terms than we could.

“This is an ongoing issue that we face so I called the agent to see if there was anything we could do. We bounced around a few ideas and came to a compromise and traded contracts the next day.

“The SMEs (small and medium enterprises) may be smaller, we may not have the deep pockets of the PLC (public limited company) but we can be faster, more agile and more determined. We are now eager to implement our own plans to put this abandoned site back to good use by expanding the land to provide ambitious new homes.

Located off Johnson New Road, residents of the New Homes will be able to walk to the village center of Hoddlesden, while Darwen is a few miles away and the M65, providing access to Blackburn, Preston and Manchester.

The Preston-based developer is also behind the ‘award-winning’ Green Hills development in Feniscowles, Blackburn.

Councilor Phil Riley, the boss of Authority Regeneration, said: “We have always known this is a very delicate site, but that local residents and councilors would really love to see it develop, so I think we can say it’s a positive step.

“Kingswood’s record on the Blackburn site speaks for itself, so it should only be a step in the right direction.

About Jerry Richter

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