Middleton’s oldest surviving mill to be restored and converted into apartments with new commercial and community space

Date published: 20 June 2022

Middleton’s oldest surviving mill could be restored and converted into new apartments and community space under ambitious new plans. Hicove Estates has tabled proposals to redevelop Lodge Mill, in Townley Street – a former silk and cotton mill that dates back to 1839.

The ground floor of the four-storey building is currently home to an ice-cream parlour – run by mill owners Martin Cove and Paula Hickey – and has also hosted a range of community events including a recent jubilee celebration and summer craft fair. Documents say the proposals aim to secure the future of the historic mill, creating 17 one and two-bedroom apartments on the top three floors while the ground floor would be units for commercial and community uses.

Potential uses for these units include education and social meetings, commercial and retail space – such as for yoga classes – and art gallery space. The Engine House - damaged when the adjoining ‘back mill’ was set alight at the end of last year – is earmarked as the ‘main community flexible venue space’. This would include the riverside garden area, which has already been opened to the public for recreational uses.


Artist's impression of completed Lodge Mill development
Artist's impression of completed Lodge Mill development


Lodge Mill – also known as ‘front mill’ – sustained thousands of pounds worth of damage from falling rubble when the back mill was demolished after being declared ‘unsafe’ by the council. Despite these setbacks, planning papers add that Mr Cove and Ms Hickey are committed to delivering a ‘high-quality development’ in keeping with the character and appearance of the local area.

Papers add: “The mill and the adjoining site are in a semi-dilapidated condition, negatively impacting on the quality of the local environment. The planning application is focused on the repurposing and restoration of Lodge Mill, securing its long-term sustainable use whilst maintaining its original character as a gateway property into Middleton’s conservation area.”

The proposed apartments are described as ‘spacious’ with each one containing an entrance hallway, bathroom and an open living and kitchen area. They would also feature low energy lighting, sound proofing and insulation, in order to provide ‘sustainable living spaces’.

Discussions are underway to lease two of the apartments to a local charity at below market rental value, to provide affordable homes within the development.

Access would be via Townley Street and there would be 15 parking spaces at the mill site – in line with the council’s ‘maximum standard’. The applicant believes this is ‘unlikely’ to result in increased on-street parking, as the site it within ‘walking distance’ of a number of shops and the area is well served by public transport.

A secure cycle store is also provided to promote other modes of transport other than the private car.

The mill is also home to a number of other occupiers, whose income is not sufficient to support the long-term and sustainable use of the building – hence the proposals for a new mixed-use development.

However, they are free to remain at the mill, as the applicant believes this will ‘show the viability of this scheme in bringing this area back into use’.

A decision on whether to grant planning permission will be made by Rochdale Council.

Nick Statham, Local Democracy Reporter

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