Friars Mill

10th September 2014

Friars Mill redevelopment begins

WORK to rebuild and develop a disused and fire damaged 18th century mill complex in Leicester is set to begin.

Friars Mill (artist's impression) 2014
Friars Mill (artist’s impression) 2014

Leicester City Council is investing £6.3milllion in an ambitious project to redevelop the derelict Friars Mill complex, on the banks of the River Soar, and bring it back into use as a base for local businesses.

The site includes Leicester’s oldest surviving factory building – the former Donisthorpe Factory – which was badly damaged in a fire in 2012.

Leicester City Council bought the factory, and other buildings in the grade II-listed mill complex for £550,000, and has worked with Levitate Architecture and Design Studio to develop plans to create 2,300sqm of new, managed workspaces.

The project has been awarded up to £3.9milllion from the European Development Fund. The city council will contribute £2.4million from capital set aside to deliver the Leicester Economic Action Plan.

The city council has now awarded the construction contract to William Anelay Limited following a competitive tendering exercise.

Founded in 1747, the company is one of the UK’s longest established construction firms and specialises in the conservation and restoration of listed and historic buildings. It has worked on major restoration and redevelopment projects across the UK including recent schemes at Sheffield Cathedral, The Florence Institute in Liverpool, Althorpe House in Warwickshire and Bettys Café Tea Rooms in Harrogate.

Work will start on site at Friars Mill from Monday, 15 September, and is expected to take around 13 months to complete.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “I am really pleased that we are now beginning work on the restoration and redevelopment of Friars Mill.

“By bringing new life to these buildings as much-needed workspaces, we can help preserve an important part of the city’s industrial and architectural heritage.

“Alongside that, we have an opportunity to provide larger workspaces in a really attractive environment, which will appeal to companies to looking to grow and develop. We already know there is an appetite for these sorts of units from businesses that are enjoying success at LCB Depot, Phoenix and our other workspaces across the city.

“I have always seen Friars Mill as a beacon for the wider development of the Waterside area. Our ambitions for this are already moving forward following the award of £5.5milllion from the Government’s Local Growth Fund for regeneration in this area.

“Friars Mill is the first exciting stage in an ambitious, longer term vision to bring new prosperity to Waterside.”

Tony Townend, Managing Director of Willaim Anelay Limited, said: “We are delighted to be involved in carrying out these specialist works to Friars Mill.  Being able to develop a building of such local importance to provide alternative uses and extend its life span for future generations is always a pleasure”

The main factory building will be restored and an extension built to house a new staircase and lift. The fire damaged roof, along with its original cupola and weathervane, will be completely rebuilt.

An extension will also be built to the rear of the former workers’ cottages, which will house work units. The former Bath Lane Mill will also be developed to provide work units and shared meeting rooms.

In a change to original plans, a new building will be built alongside the Pump House. This will house photovoltaic panels and an air source heat pump large enough to heat the entire complex, along with other required utilities.

When complete, Friars Mill will offer 14 work units, of 70sqm and above, along with a main reception area, meeting rooms and other shared facilities.

The former factory Mill chimney will also be completely restored and carry bold Friars Mill signage.

[Source: Leicester City Council]

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