Fears that a historic building could collapse arose as a result of a sizeable crack in its structure. An exclusion zone has been set up around the former Loggans Mill in Hayle, with part of the neighbouring Lidl car park now closed off.
CornwallLive reported last week how Cornwall Council and its team of surveyors are carrying out work at the site to determine the next step. The exclusion zone was set-up around the south of the building to keep the public safe in the meantime and people living nearby are being notified of developments.
The matter was raised at a meeting of Hayle Town Council on Thursday. Mayor of Hayle Anne-Marie Rance, who previously described the situation as scary, is optimistic the building won’t have to be reduced to rubble.
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She said: “We had a report from Lionel Pascoe (Cornwall councillor) which said there was a large crack in the building structure. They (Cornwall Council) don’t have any plans to demolish it and ways to save it and get extra funding are being looked into.
“I’m a lot more settled now they’re on the case and really looking into it.”
Ms Rance says the initial cause for concern was over the crack and that there are fears that a leat has swollen underneath the building. Locals in Hayle have complained that the building should have been better looked after over the years, with some saying it has been left to crumble to the point where it is now considered unsafe.
The Grade II listed former 19 th century flour mill is located just off the Loggans roundabout and the A30.
Hayle town councillor, and former Cornwall councillor, John Pollard has given a detailed rundown on the history of the mill and the efforts that have gone on to save it over the years. He said: “This is dear to my heart as some of us battled for 20 years or more to save the building and put it to good purpose.
“The building was finally listed in 1988 after a rather chequered history for the previous 20 or so years. The local authority stepped in and it became the property of Penwith District Council. At the end of the century the site was partitioned to provide land for the Guinness Housing estate and the site where Lidl eventually built and then extended.
“Part of the Lidl deal was an agreement whereby Lidl paid £200,000 to Penwith District Council to ensure the future of the mill. £100,000 was spent on buying the scaffolding (2006) and maintaining it (regular surveys etc). Therefore, you would think that there was £100,000 somewhere to repair the building. However, all my attempts to find that money failed and it is believed that it was spent on supporting affordable housing schemes. Its precise use/destination was lost in the change from district to unitary.
“When I was elected to the unitary authority in 2009, I began to pursue a solution. I had many, many meetings with officers over the next 10 years.
“We brought in the Cornwall Buildings Preservation Trust in the hope that they could help to procure funding. They were helpful but unsuccessful.
“There had been lots of ideas for uses for the mill – from hotel to climbing centre. We managed to procure £10,000 to have a full feasibility plan of its future and the result was the determination that the only viable new use was housing.”
Mr Pollard explained how by the end of 2017 the affordable housing team at Cornwall Council had secured funding from the government under the umbrella of both affordable housing and putting listed buildings to new use and had engaged with the housing association, Coastline, to develop the mill.
He says that all were keen to move forward and that there were plans for 16 one and two-bedroom properties. Planning permission was applied for, however the plan never progressed through the system and Coastline withdrew from the project.
Mr Pollard added: “Councillor Pascoe has informed us Cornwall Council now intended to develop the site themselves. There were serious issues with the plans as the mill had deteriorated since the last full survey but Cornwall Council did undertake further surveys – they removed some of the tress within the compound and procured more land/access to make the project viable. They have been fully aware of the fragility of the structure.
“So, people are right that the mill has been left to deteriorate – all of which is avoidable because officers have been alert to the dangers and the dilapidation of the scaffolding and the net they put over the roof to keep it as intact as possible. In 2006 the District Council also had the money from Lidl.
“The falling masonry is causing a lot of disruption but it may also effect some progress. Our job now is to keep applying pressure on Cornwall Council for some emergency works and information on the progress of the housing scheme.”