A landmark building in Galgate is to be redeveloped into over 100 student apartments, a museum and a cafe.
Developer Ayub Hussain said that the initial business venture, which will see an investment of between £3.5-4.5m, took on more meaning when his company, UK Mills Ltd, discovered more about the history of Galgate Silk Mill - the oldest mechanical silk mill in the world, dating back to 1792.
Mr Hussain, from Fulwood, Preston, who owns new company UK Mills Ltd with co-director Imyataz Patel, said he was “very excited” about the development, which will see the building become a 107 bed student apartment, silk weaving museum and cafe, if plans are given the go-ahead.
The mill has been home to the Bathroom Emporium for at least 25 years.
Mr Hussain, who is also managing director of Preston based AR Investments Ltd, and has significant experience of property development and investment, said: “When my father Hussain Patel came to the UK from India in the 1970s, Andrew Mackintosh, who owned Bathroom Emporium before passing it on to his son Rory, gave him his first break.
“Mr Mackintosh allowed my father to buy items in bulk on credit to sell on, so that was one of the reasons for my interest in the mill.
“Obviously we initially came at it from a business perspective, but I also thought how sad it is that it’s just sitting there empty when it’s the oldest mechanical mill in the world.
“Lancaster has forgotten about it, and yet it can be seen from far and wide.”
Mr Hussain said that extensive research and consultation had been done with Galgate residents, resulting in him meeting with Anthony Pilling, a Galgate resident and retired chief architect with Lancashire County Council, who advises museum curators on historic textile machinery matters.
Mr Hussain said Mr Pilling would have an essential role to play within the museum side of things.
“There were lots of ideas from Galgate residents,” said Mr Hussain.
“But one thing that really stood out was for it to become a museum. We have to preserve it.
“We asked ourselves what is right for it and this is what we have come up with.
“It’s been a lot of work but I’m very excited.
“It’s a big project, but we know we can put our stamp on it and hopefully get it right.”
The plans which have now been submitted to Lancaster City Council include the change of use, conversion and alterations of a mixed use showroom/warehouse with associated storage and office accommodation into 107 student studio apartments with associated communal facilities, a silk weaving museum, cafe and erection of a bicycle shelter. The plans also include four car parking spaces, 30 cycle spaces, and five disabled spaces.
It is expected the development will create 10 full time jobs.