Plans to redevelop Hilden Mill proving “frustrating”
Discussions around the plans to redevelop the Hilden Mill site have proved “frustrating”, it has been claimed.
The former linen mill, based in Lisburn has been unused for more than a decade with regeneration plans failing to get off the ground on several occasions.
The derelict site has been plagued by anti-social behaviour in recent weeks, with three fires taking place at the former mill over a two month period, between May and June this year.
The previous owner, Galliard Homes, was granted planning approval for a redevelopment scheme that involved up to 650 homes though that planning permission has since expired.
The site was formerly home to the Barbour Thread factory, which had occupied the site since 1823 and has huge sentimental value to families right across the district.
In 2017, the 24-acre site was bought by PJK Developments with the intention of building an affordable residential scheme of 230 homes.
However, a source close to the development said that discussions between the developer, Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council and the Department for Communities’ Historic Environment Division had proved “frustrating”.
The source, who wished to remain anonymous, said the two authorities insisted that any future plans for the site would have to involve the retention of the Hilden Mill buildings, something they said was “completely uneconomical”.
Meanwhile, it’s understood that the developer has also been unable to lodge a planning application due to regulations brought in during the UK’s membership of the EU.
The issues surround “extremely meticulous” environmental and ecological reports, according to the source.
They added: “The developer has already spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on the development scheme and security.
“We have been doing the best we can, to try and secure the site and the buildings but this is next to impossible and the costs are completely unsustainable, as I believe is accepted by the local PSNI.
“As you are well aware local youths have been breaking into the site, no matter what efforts are made to secure it and the buildings themselves.
“It’s believed that given the condition of the buildings and the impossibility of keeping them properly secure, the local community organisations and politicians realise that redevelopment of the whole site is the only viable way forward.
“The building next to Mill Street, which has been most badly damaged by the fires, was a small area which may have been able to be retained for some sort of community use although an architect objected because it would have infringed on the proposed vehicular access.”
The council said that discussions between the developer, DfC and council officers would continue to occur regularly in the coming months.
A spokesperson said: “Council officers met with representatives from DfC and the developers this week.
“The developer continues to implement further measures to secure the site and is installing additional CCTV cameras with a view to linking with the CityWatch CCTV Scheme, which is monitored 24/7.
“This is to ensure access to the site is restricted as the building remains unstable.”