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The first phase of work has started on a £20 million regeneration scheme which will transform a run down seven-acre site in Burnley, adjacent to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

St. Modwen has started site clearance work at the former Lambert Howarth factory, for a major residential–led development. The start of work coincided with Prince Charles’ visit to the Weavers Triangle conservation area, which saw St. Modwen invited to update His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales on progress with the scheme.

The development received outline planning permission and conservation area consent in May, after St. Modwen worked closely with Burnley Borough Council, the Prince’s Regeneration Trust and English Heritage. The approved plans include the creation of up to 168 new homes and a mix of retail units, leisure facilities, office space and community facilities.

Work has now commenced on the demolition of Healey Royd Mill, which has been severely damaged through sustained vandalism and looting. This will make way for a new building, of similar scale and massing to complement the historic canal front. To further preserve the heritage of the area, St. Modwen has also committed to retaining the oldest section and four external façades of the nearby Finsley Gate Mill. These original 19th Century features will be incorporated into a new building.

Michelle Taylor, regional director at St. Modwen, said: “We are very pleased to be starting work in earnest on the regeneration that this site so clearly needs.

“Working closely with Burnley Borough Council, we have an approved master plan which is supported by the Prince’s charities and the heritage bodies. The essential site clearance work, which has now started, will make way for new homes and community facilities with a superb canal-side location, for future generations to enjoy.

“There is no doubt that, in the current climate, retaining the facades of Finsley Gate Mill presents a challenge, as occupiers are increasingly seeking the flexibility of modern new build developments. However, we will be working hard to market the building to suitable occupiers and are encouraged by the announcement of a major new use for Victoria Mill in the Weavers Triangle, which was unveiled during the Prince of Wales’ visit.”

Burnley Borough Council chief executive, Steve Rumbelow, said: “These works are a great step forward for the rejuvenation of the area. There was no commercial solution for Healey Royd Mill and demolishing it will pave the way for the creation of an attractive new canal-side community.”

The demolition of Healey Royd Mill expected to be completed by mid-December. St. Modwen is currently preparing proposals for the selective demolition around the retained elements of Finsley Gate Mill and hopes to begin marketing the site in 2012.