Councillors to decide whether to reduce height of historic Farnley mill chimney

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Landmark: The Stonebridge Mills chimney

Plans to reduce the height of a landmark chimney at historic Stonebridge Mills by six metresĀ for safety reasons will be debated by city councillors next week.

Stonebridge Mills Ltd wants to reduce the former mill chimney, at the Grade II Listed building off Stonebridge Lane in Farnley, as work continues on a scheme to create 112 homes at the Stonebridge Beck development.

The application includes new steel structural bands to the bottom eight to ten metres of the chimney in a bid to make it structurally safe.

There have been six letters of objection to the proposals, arguing alternative options should be considered as opposed to reduction, including re-building the chimney and that it has been in situ for 200 years and should be retained.

Objectors include civic watchdog group Leeds Civic Trust, which says the chimney is a ‘significant local feature, and Farnley and Wortley councillor David Blackburn (Green). In his objection, Cllr Blackburn said:

“The current proposal, submitted late in the development process, is unacceptable. In the previous Heritage Statement, contained within the approval for the development, Historic England had made comments regarding their concerns for the chimney.

“It was outlined by the developer the chimney would be repaired and rebuilt to full height. This should still be the case.”

A council planning officer’s report highlights structural concerns about the historic chimney, and says a structural report considers that the chimney is at risk of failure via cracks opening up and says it’s necessary to reduce the bearing pressure below the foundation.

The planning report recommends councillors approve the plans in principle, subject to conditions, including agreement on type of materials used. It concludes:

“The proposals seek to retain the chimney whilst implementing structural safety works to ensure its long-term viability whilst preventing a risk to the general public.

“It is acknowledged the proposal does involve alterations to the chimney and thus creates a degree of harm upon the setting of the listed buildings, through reducing its overall height, however this is considered limited given the majority of chimney will be restored, repaired and retained ensuring its long term preservation and thus these associated benefits outweigh overall harm. For these reasons listed building consent should be granted.”

The south and west plans panel will meet next Thursday, 4 August, at Leeds Civic Hall, 1pm. The meeting will be webcast live. All the documents related to the application and link to the webcast can be found here.

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