‘Redevelopment of mill site offers exciting opportunity’

The Hilden Mill site.
The Hilden Mill site.

Plans to redevelop the old Hilden Mill site offer exciting opportunities for the local community and the economy, the council has said.

A delegation from Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council recently visited the 24-acre site in Hilden, which has been bought by English development company St Francis Group.

The delegation included several senior council officers and planners, as well as the Chairman of the local authority’s Development Committee, Cllr Uel Mackin. Also present were representatives of St Francis Group and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Hilden Mill was home to the Barbour Threads factory from 1823 and has been lying vacant since 2006.

According to the council, the site is “an iconic local landmark with the potential to be one of the largest mixed use development projects in Northern Ireland.”

Stressing the architectural, sociological and historical importance of the site, a council spokesperson said: “As a conserved site with listed structures, the council envisions to retain the natural heritage and architecture while creating linkages with Lagan walkways, greenways and the wider city infrastructure. The mixed use development aims to maximise the place shaping opportunity to create sustainable communities.”

Cllr Mackin commented: “This site offers an exciting opportunity for community sustainability. A vibrant landmark to live and work will be a real boost for the local economy.

“During the development process we will ensure engagement with all interested parties to help shape the regeneration opportunity of Hilden Mill.”

The council has confirmed that it will be working closely with St Francis Group to look at the wider vision for the site and says it will continue to encourage stakeholder engagement.

“There is wide ranging interest in this project from housing agencies, the council, local businesses and other external stakeholders,” the council spokesperson continued. “St Francis Group has welcomed council interest and will develop a masterplan for the area with forward thinking ideas expected to be produced within the next 12 months.

“The council welcomes this development with a vision to re-energise the city area with the key focus on regenerating the natural built heritage that will create a sustainable community.”

Council Chief Executive Dr Theresa Donaldson added: “We are pleased to see this development moving in the right direction. Hilden Mill is a key site and an asset to Lisburn and Castlereagh City heritage. With the right proposal this development could really make a positive contribution and change for the city.”

The Ulster Star attempted to contact St Francis Group to discuss the plans for the site, but they hadn’t responded at the time of publication.