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Preston’s last windmill set for either Airbnb or bedsits plan

Posted on - 10th January, 2024 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Business, Plungington, Preston Council, Preston News, Redevelopment, University campus
Cragg's Row windmill
Cragg’s Row windmill

The future of Preston’s only remaining windmill could spin in one of two directions after planning officials gave the go-ahead for different visions of how to bring it back into use.

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The 260-year-old landmark, on Cragg’s Row in Plungington, has not functioned as a windmill since its sails were removed at the end of the 19th century.

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The Grade II-listed structure has since seen action as an overflow prison, piano workshop, garage, World War Two-era cinema and a merchant’s storage warehouse – but has lain largely disused for decades.

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As the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) revealed in September, separate planning applications were submitted for bids to convert it into Airbnb-style holiday lets or bedsits – and now Preston City Council has given the green light to both possibilities.

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The changes needed for either revamp would be largely the same – and mostly confined to internal modifications.  They have received both planning permission and the necessary consent for alteration to a listed building.

The LDRS has attempted to contact the applicant – Clitheroe-based Simca Investments Ltd. – to see which of the two options it now intends to pursue.

If the windmill becomes a place for holidaymakers and other visitors to Preston to stay, 12 ensuite units will be created across six floors.   However, if it is converted into bedsits – a so-called house in multiple occupation (HMO) – 10 individual rooms would be developed across seven floors, with two living and dining rooms and kitchens being added within an attached two-storey annexe building.

Either way, four new windows and two rooflights will be installed within the mill, along with two small wind turbines on top of the structure – a 21st-century nod to its 18th-century origins.   Solar panels will also be introduced on the annexe.

Initial plans to stagger new staircases around the edge of the building were abandoned because of the difficulties posed by its circular and tapered style – and so a central stairway will now be created instead.

A report by council planning officers notes that while the internal alterations are considered “harmful to the character of the building,” they are “adequately justified”.

“The harm caused will be less than substantial in scale and, when weighed against the benefits of bringing the existing vacant building back into use, is considered acceptable,” it adds.

The new windows have been deemed in-keeping with the existing ones and will be largely hidden from street view by the windmill’s boundary wall.

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