Wakefield: Fight to save mill grinds to a halt

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A 40-year fight to turn an historic 16th century mill into an education centre and base for brownies and scouts looks doomed to end in failure this week.

Wakefield Council's planning bosses have been urged to knock back plans to turn the engine house at the old Coxley Woollen Mill in Middlestown, Wakefield into the new heritage centre, which would also include a gallery for local artists and photography displays.

If the plans are rejected, it could mark the end of local man Alan Sykes' decades-long dream to see the historic site preserved for future generations.

Land-owner Mr Skyes, a retired builder, has spent 40 years trying to see the engine house restored – but says he will finally give up if the plans are blocked at a meeting on Thursday.

He told the YEP: "On Thursday I shall turn my back on the efforts of my family, who have lived in Coxley for 90 years, to create a fabulous opportunity for this community to put something back.

"The mill had a fire in 1926 and it's been left to decline until now. But Wakefield Council are denying the community the chance to turn it around.

"It's a local beauty spot and people have come in their droves ever since Victorian times to this wonderful place."

Mr Sykes' proposal would see a ground floor classroom built on the remains of the engine house, for outdoor nature studies by local schools and as a base for groups including scouts and brownies.

Then on the first floor, a gallery and workshop would be built for artists and heritage displays.

Support for the proposals has come from local parish councillors as well as Wakefield MP and shadow cabinet member Mary Creagh.

But a report to Wakefield Councils Planning and Highways Committee says: "It is considered that the proposal would constitute inappropriate development and would have a detrimental impact upon the openness and visual character of the green belt.

"Further, the design, scale, massing, height, density and layout of the development is considered to be unsympathetic to the locality."

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