Scheme set to go ahead when market improves
by MARY MAGEE
THE ICONIC Hilden Mill building which was scene of Lisburn's biggest blaze in 20 years two weeks ago is set to rise from the ashes.
Dawson Stelfox of Consarc, the architects involved in plans for ambitious restoration of the 30 acre site for housing and leisure, said despite the ferocity of the blaze it appeared the building was structurally sound and would not have to be demolished.
And he said despite delays caused by the economic downturn, he was confident the £100m regeneration project, which received planning permission last year, will go ahead.
Four years ago Galliard Homes revealed plans to regenerate and transform the former Barbour Threads site by restoring listed buildings and opening up of the River Lagan for wider public use with much improve amenities.
The site was to provide upwards of 150 new jobs and proposals included plans for 60E residential units, 15,000 sq. ft. of light industry 17,000 sq. ft. of open door offices, a museum expected to be focused on the history of the linen industry, a riverside bar/restaurant, a gym, crèche, cafe and tourist related retail uses, restoration/replacement of canal and river bridges and community meeting rooms.
Mr Stelfox said the scheme had been delayed because of the economic climate, but that Galliard Homes was still committed to going ahead with the project.
He described Hilden Mill as a truly iconic site with over 200,000 sq. ft. of listed mill buildings on the edge of the Lagan.
"I believe that once the market improves the scheme will still go ahead," he said.
"The Old Mill, which was the area affected by the fire, is still structurally sound. It is a listed building and I know that the Northern Ireland Environment Agency would be more than keen that the building remains and is restored. There is no structural reason to have the building demolished."
This week police reissued their appeal for information about the blaze which was reported at around 12.41pm on Saturday, May 21.
They said that due to the condition of the building it has not yet been
possible to determine the exact cause, however initial indications are
that the fire may have been started deliberately.
Over the past few months there has been concern about vandalism at the nearby Hilden School building which has been vacant since it was closed two years ago.
HILDEN Mill was once one of the largest linen thread mills in the world giving Lisburn a richly deserved international reputation.
A linen thread works was opened by John Barbour in 1784. His son, William, bought a derelict bleach green at Hilden and set up business.
Later, the thread works were transferred to Hilden and as early as 1817 it was employing 122 workers. The Barbour family built a model village for its workforce in Hilden, which consisted of 350 houses, two schools, a community hall, children's playground and village sports ground.
By 1914 it employed about 2,000 people but lust prior to its closure some years ago den Mill had a workforce of just 85.