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Vale Mill is revived

Reporter: Martyn Torr
Date published: 27 August 2008


New life as a business centre

A MULTI-MILLION pound project to transform the Vale Mill at Hollinwood into a business centre is underway.

Empty since January, 2006, when the last occupiers, wallpaper manufacturers Stanley Holmes Ltd. entered into administration, the mill, at the junction of Chamber Road and Chapel Road, has been purchased from the receivers by CR Ltd., a Burnley- based property developer.

Owned by managing director Mohammed Yousaf and his son Adnan, a chartered building surveyor, CR Ltd. has been active for a number of years in central Lancashire.

The business has established itself in the residential property market and the venture at Hollinwood is the first into the commercial sector.

Built in 1868 and extended in twice — in 1882 and as recently as 1920 — Vale Mill ceased cotton spinning in 1946 and became home to the wallpaper industry and an engineering business.

The sprawling buildings, incorporating a small building which was once one of Oldham’s early schools, stand on a four-and-a-half acre site and the new owners have already undertaken some demolition of extensions and lean-tos.

Now named Chambers Business Centre, all the currently available space is let with a government training agency in Progress House, what was the former design studios and an IT recruitment business in the old showrooms, now named Barclay House (see story on facing page). Both are stand alone buildings.

Completion

A legal practice has relocated from central Manchester into the mill’s main offices and a design agency has taken space on the first floor of the reception area.

Work to create office space on two floors is nearing completion and, according to Ian Shepherd, who has extensive experience of business centres in Oldham having worked at Hollinwood’s former Albert Mill project and the Saddleworth Business Centre centred on the Lumb Mill in Delph, inquiries are at a high level.

Mr Shepherd, who lives in Delph, owns FM Security UK, a company specialising in lettings and management. He has been acting as an adviser to CR Ltd. and told me: “If all the inquiries firm up then we shall have all the offices occupied as soon as they become available.

“This is an excellent site, close to M60 motorway yet outside the proposed congestion charge boundary. There is ample parking on site.”

He expects the next tranche of lettable space — nine offices on two floors — to be available by the beginning of September, when a new communal reception and meeting room will also be complete.

During a tour of the 165,000 sq ft former cotton mill, owner Mohammed Yousaf spoke of his plans for the site, saying: “I used to come here to buy wallpaper and when the liquidators moved in I jumped at the chance to buy the premises.

“Everything is being done to the highest standards — state-of-the-art telecommunications and data networks, broadband, conference and meeting rooms.

“The site will be covered by CCTV and on-site security and management staff.”

Once the current refurbishment works are complete, the team will turn its attention to the 90,000 sq ft on three floors of the old warehouse and manufacturing site.

A number of options are available to the developers though they are hoping that demand will drive the next set of works.

“We can create the space that tenants require,” said Mr Shepherd who added that one of the options was a self-storage business.


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