The last aspect of the Alexandra Works campus in Keighley:
The last remaining building of the former Alexandra Works complex in Keighley will soon be demolished following the clearance of the rest of the site a few years ago.
You can view the original mill buildings in the area by browsing Google maps street view and setting the view to the archived images. A lot of quirky Victorian architecture has been lost here. It is lamentable, but sadly in the fringes of a town such as Keighley the property market is limited and uses for sites such as this come solely in the tin shed industrial space format.
Perhaps if Keighley had capitalised on its Victorian culture in the way Saltaire, Hebden Bridge, or Skipton have, the demand for residential or start-up space in former industrial buildings would exist. Keighley should try to attempt to emulate the relationship Ilkley has with Bradford, and reposition itself as a small town that offers escape from the bigger city, yet with more amenity than the villages.
Planners must realise it is their responsibility to create housing markets in this way and foster regeneration through reviving history and culture.
There has been some press recently about the loss of mills in Northern England, and it has highlighted that there has been nothing short of a cull. We need to recognise that these buildings are temples from an erstwhile era, and that somehow Brtain of modernity emerged from this mythical antiquity that now seems distant and unrecognisable. Every culture needs its mythos.
Mid 18th century mill to be demolished in Keighley:
(forgive the quality of the image. There doesn’t seem to be any images of this building outside of Google Street View. Lets hope it is properly recorded before being smashed up)
Whilst reading the heritage statement (which always seem to have been complied by a wrecking ball salesmen), I noticed the reference to a pre-application meeting. Frankly, if a planning application comes forward following pre-application negotiations, then a decision has already been made, and the democratic right to publicly comment is devoid of meaning.
When a developer has sat around a table with council officers, having paid a grand for the privilege, they expect to get an expeditious planning approval.
So the fate of this remarkable building is already sealed. I will comment, and urge others to do so as well, however, the machinations within local government that will lead to the demise of this mill have been concluded.
I recommend reading the heritage assessment, as it is fascinating to see how ‘heritage experts’ justify the loss of an assets like this with exceptionally tenuous arguments.
NB – also a big loss to the setting of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, which runs alongside this mill complex.
Robust stone industrial mills and pond to make way for a Lidl:
A large amount of Victorian industrial building stock is to be lost for the expansion of Lidl’s empire.
A thesis could be written about the insidious colonisation of deprived areas by Lidl. Bad for health, the economy, culture, and the environment. Not wanting to digressing into sociological territory, I will try to summarise why this is a crime against conservation.
The mills of Bradford are being lost at an alarming rate, with the local authority not seeing the value (and being powerless) in retaining humble buildings such as Union Mills. What these buildings add to the local landscape is invaluable; punctuating the rolling countryside with implications of former industrial prowess. We diminish the essence of a place when we remove its history.
Particularly objectionable is the infill of the mill pond. Blue infrastructure is normally celebrated and protected. Not only for its value in biodiversity, but for the public who enjoy it as a destination for walking and angling.
The existing buildings function perfectly well. They are adaptable, and can be used for a variety of industries looking for different sizes of space. They provide economic opportunities that are vital for small businesses in the area.
The buildings that will replace them do not have these qualities. Lidl could very easily retrofit the existing complex for their purposes, but their rudimentary economic models can not integrate such innovative strategies into their expansionist masterplan. Cleared sites only please. And no architects. Shame on you Lidl.
Application to destroy an important complex of small mills in Kirklees:
These three story stone edifices provide an important aspect to the narrative of a Yorkshire village, protruding above the roof pitches of the surrounding terraces and cottages of the village, indicating the close relationship between industry and domestic life. To lose buildings as vital as this to the Yorkshrie townscape (not to mention buildings that are perfectly robust) is a crime.
There is no other reason for this that to allow the developer to build and sell ‘products’ that are homogenous and can fit into their capital program.
Please Kirkleses, intervene, and start saving your beautiful historic villages! There are not that many left now.
Above is the suggested layout. I am absolutely certain this will have been devised at a desk by a technician with no other remit for design other than ‘as many units can you get on there please mate’.
Future generations will one day ask why we made this country so boring.
Mill building to be demolished in small Calderdale hill village:
Very important piece of heritage for this small village on top of the moors to the East of Halifax.
From an urban design perspective, the building is vital to the village centre, providing a strong building line on the edge of the village green feature.
From a conservation point of view, village mills like this are fascinating, because they are often the sole example of heavy industry in the settlement, providing an economic base for the rest of the village to thrive.
The buildings are all robust and are in use, and could achieve a fantastic market value. Sadly, for some unknown reason, the market is signalling for more semi detached dull stock fit for new families in the countryside.
There is an irony in despoiling the beauty and history of villages, on which elevated market desirability for these semis is predicated.
Application to demolish, and develop 55 houses on a site in rural Huddersfield:
This mill found its way into the local press last year through a fantastic redevelopment that would have seen the building incorporated into an innovative mixed use scheme albeit with the sad loss of the chimney. Sadly this developer withdrew:
The new scheme includes plans for 55 dwellings and 143 spaces for vehicles, all of which will have to journey into Huddersfield or Manchester each day to keep the intended residents in employment.
The location is not sustainable by the councils own reckoning and my own predilection for saving heritage assets notwithstanding, there is surely a huge risk of flooding on what is effectively an island on a waterway at the foot of the Pennines (and it really does rain up on those hills).
The planning consultant argues the development will bring much needed ‘diversity’ to the area. What a sacred cow that word is. Diversity is actually the exact opposite of throngs of white flighters looking for rural detached housing.
It is another anachronistic building in an awkward location. But it is also our heritage, and believe me Kirklees, if you hang on, something amazing will happen with this building.
A large industrial site is to be cleared to make way for brownfield housing:
Not an especially beautiful mill complex, however I am fond of this the sweeping road front. Makes you know just where you are.
In a perfect world this would be a mill shop. But we can’t save everything can we?