Northlight 1

SITE VISIT | Barnfield’s Northlight

Charlie Schouten

A former cotton mill in Brierfield is being converted into a 380,000 sq ft housing, leisure, hotel, and sports complex by Barnfield Construction, supported by Pendle Council and Burnley Football Club. Place North West paid a visit to see how the project is progressing.

The imposing mill was built in 1832 but gradually fell out of use before being purchased by Pendle Council in 2012, using grant funding from the then-Homes & Communities Agency, now Homes England.

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The council then formed the Pearl joint venture with Barnfield to bring forward the development, which will ultimately include sports facilities, a hotel, apartments, a marina, office space, restaurants, and bars.

Accompanied by Barnfield chairman and managing director Tim Webber, Place North West’s tour of the site started at the sports facilities, being built in a former warehouse for Burnley FC in the Community, the football club’s official charity.

Built in the warehouse part of the mill site, the facilities include an indoor 3G pitch, soft play areas, a climbing wall, dance studios, and a gym. There will also be outdoor sports pitches at the facility, which is due to open in the summer.

Much of the existing steelwork in the building has been retained to keep the character of the building, apart from over where the 3G pitch will sit, where Barnfield has had to build a bespoke steel support.

The dance studios, play area and gym sit on a lower level but still face out on to the mill owing to the site’s sloping nature. The design, by architect Liberata, has these areas facing the part of the mill proposed for housing; Webber says the intention is that the leisure facilities will be accessible to potential residents of the houses, which will be primarily two-bed and available for private sale.

Webber added the homes would be targeted at older professionals, owing to the leisure facilities and other amenities available on site, and the mill’s proximity to a train station and the M65. In total, there will be 52 apartments at the site.

Planning permission for the residential element was granted towards the end of 2017.

The leisure facilities open out onto an impressive potential streetscape, flanked by the mill building at the south of the site. As well as residential, the mill, which fronts the Leeds and Liverpool canal, will also be converted into hotel space.

Webber says Barnfield is “in discussions with a number of parties” regarding the potential operator for the hotel, but a formal decision is yet to be made. Both the residential and the hotel element will benefit from terraces fronting the canal.

Opposite the hotel is the Lancashire Adult Learning Centre, which was the first part of the mill to be converted. It provides office space and a learning centre over four floors, with its main frontage on Glen Way, opposite Brierfield station.

The units facing the hotel are planned for food, drink, and retail, with Webber hoping to attract “local artisan producers” to the site. He revealed Barnfield was already in discussions to bring a brewery and craft ale bar to Northlight.

Alongside these food, drink, and retail units, Barnfield plans to build 12 office units and workshops targeted at SMEs, and at the north of the site near the leisure development, a historic building has been set aside for use as an artists’ studio.

Many of the buildings were found it be in a “reasonable” state, adds Webber, but said the development “wouldn’t have been possible” without the input of the HCA.

The development of the mill has been supported by the construction of further homes nearby, built by Barnfield’s housing division. These include the £6.7m Foxhills development of 35 homes, which completed in 2017.

Subject to planning, the entire Northlight development is planned to complete in 2022.

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