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Future of historic building safeguarded

16/11/2012

A HISTORIC building which was recently ravaged by fire has been safeguarded for future generations in a decision by Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby to buy the site.

The City Mayor has announced the move to buy the Friars Mill complex off Bath Lane, on the banks of the River Soar, in order to preserve the listed buildings and prevent them falling into further decay.

The Friars Mill complex and adjacent car park has been bought for £550,000, with immediate work starting to ensure the buildings safe and secure and to prevent further deterioration.

Longer-term options will then be drawn up for the future use of the building, as part of a wider development strategy for the Waterside Regeneration area along that area of the River Soar.

Friars Mill had been for sale on the open market when one of its key buildings - the former Donisthorpe Factory - was badly damaged by fire in July 2012.

It led to urgent discussions between Leicester City Council and site owners Bank of Ireland over the future of the site, which contains the former factory, pump house and buildings facing onto Bath Lane itself.

Immediately following the fire, Leicester City Council carried out urgent work under the planning and building control acts to ensure the damaged building was more securely guarded. Entrances to the building were blocked up, fences and scaffolding were erected to secure the structure, and extra site security was put in place.

Further works are currently being carried out to install a temporary roof structure to protect the building from water damage, as well as clearance work to take out any hazardous material from within the complex.

Peter Soulsby said: "The Friars Mill complex is the most significant group of listed buildings at risk in the city. Following the devastation caused by the recent fire, I took immediate action by using the council's powers to secure and safeguard the structure of this privately-owned building.

"Having considered the options for the future of these important historic buildings, I feel strongly that decisive action should be taken to protect them and to pursue their acquisition, so this key part of Leicester’s industrial history can be preserved for future generations.

"As well as being locally important listed buildings, the Friars Mill complex also forms a central focus for the regeneration strategy for the Waterside area.

"I have asked my officers to prepare plans for restoring the listed buildings and bringing them back into use. I will also be looking at a renewed strategy for developing the Waterside area, which I hope will also encourage private sector investment in new development."

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