Repair plan for Shrewsbury Flax Mill is submitted
Ambitious plans for the repair and renovation of one of the county's best known buildings have been submitted to Shropshire Council.
Ditherington Flax Mill in Shrewsbury is the world's oldest iron-framed building and has stood idle for decades.
But now plans have been unveiled to turn the main mill and kiln into offices, a café and an interactive visitor space.
The plans have been proposed by Historic England, which is behind the multi-million pound scheme – funding for which has already been partially secured.
The Grade-I listed main mill will be conserved to enhance the historic nature of the building, while structural weaknesses within the building itself will be addressed.
The ground floor of the main mill house will become the main visitor space and will include a café and a large activity and "interpretation" space which will give visitors the opportunity to learn about the history and significance of the building.
Guided tours will also take place where the building can be explored further. These tours will take in the upper floors, kiln, warehouse, cross mill and even the top of the Jubilee Tower giving visitors the opportunity to experience far reaching views across Shrewsbury and beyond.
The ground floor of the mill will house the visitor's space which will include a cafe and welcome desk.
The upper floors of the main mill will also be let as office space for a maximum of 340 people.
Under the plans, which are now set to be considered by Shropshire Council's planning department, the Flax Mill's original windows will be opened up.
The upper rooms of the restored south engine house, which was the driving force of the Flax Mill in its heyday, will also include three meeting rooms.
The north engine house will be used as part of the public space for visitors. Toilets will be fitted in both buildings.
The Grade II listed kiln, which needs an entire new roof, will be retained in its present form and renovated. It will then house two lifts and walkways allowing access to the main mill.
A design statement prepared by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios of Bath, states that the kiln roof is "in a dire condition and is to be rebuilt to match the existing structure".
The Victoria Jubilee coronet and flagpole will be restored and a sky bridge running between the kiln roof and the main mill's fourth floor will be installed.
Landscaping will also be carried out in the surrounding area and parking for 98 cars is also included in the overall plan.
Work has already been undertaken to provide a visitor's centre in the mill's former stables and offices. This opened last year.
Alan Mosley, chair of the Friends of the Flax Mill, said: "We are delighted the plans have been put forward.
"Great progress has been made and a lot of work has gone in to this to make sure that they are the best possible plans.
"They are highly accurate in terms of the cost. We are very confident in the plans going through and then a successful submission will be made to the Heritage Lottery Fund for funding."
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