Words by Gary Carter
PEOPLE living near a collapsed mill have called on owners to tell them what their plans are as they face weeks of disruption.
Oakwood Mill in Millbrook ended up looking like a hole had been drilled through it after three floors gave way on Friday, February 9.
Heavy rain falling on ice that was sitting on top of the roof and the subsequent weight of water is believed to be a major factor in the collapse, which locals say felt like an earthquake.
Now thoughts have turned to what happens to the derelict site on Grenville Street, which is owned by The Casey Group, which is hoping to develop the nearby Tame Valley Country Park.
Simon Robinson, who lives close to the mill, called on them to let people know exactly what they intend to do and how they intend to do it.
“If the mill goes, which I think it will, are they just going to build houses on it?” he asked.
“We should find out from them what they’re going to do and if they are going to put houses on it, what would that do to the roads in the area?
“If you put roadworks around it, then the roads could end up more like Mottram Moor for traffic.
“And if it’s just a case of knocking the mill down and putting new houses on it, then other things would have to be looked at.
“When they built the last load of new houses around here, apparently the sewers started overflowing not long afterwards.
“You can’t walk at the back of the mill any more and there were cases of juveniles getting in, which definitely won’t happen now – but it’s what they do with it now.
“If it is pulled down, then there is the dirt and mud to think about, not to mention all the lorries and machinery which aren’t small, unlike the roads around it.
“Actually, I think it should be pulled down but if that goes, what of the rest of the site?
“You’re going to have big machines knocking it down and a lot of other machines will be needed too, then if it is built on the vehicles used in any development will be big too.
“Access to the site is only from one road in and out. I think there is a back road to it but also that area is a conservation zone.
“There’s already enough traffic on Huddersfield Road, especially when it’s the school run, but if you add all the machinery that will be needed to do the job, it’s only going to increase the volume of traffic and maybe the aggravation for people living around here.
“There’s going to have to be meetings about future plans and Casey’s need to tell us what they want to do with the site.
“Basically, they need to talk to us and come up with a way of going about it all.
“It’s not just a case of ‘knock the mill down and get come houses on it’ – there’s a lot more to it than that.”
Police, fire brigade and ambulance crews rushed to the scene of the collapse at Oakwood Mill and four nearby homes were evacuated.
The three-storey Grade II listed building was built as a specialised spinning mill for the Staley Mill Company but is believed to have been vacant for several years.
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service used a drone to hover over the top and examine the extent of the damage caused by the collapse.
And luckily much of the falling brickwork and masonry is believed to have landed largely in the mill’s yard.
And Mr Robinson, who lives metres from the site, also believes Tameside Council, who will decide if any eventual plans get the go ahead, should get involved.
“All projects have good parts and bad parts,” he added. “It might even clean the road up but the bad part is all the disruption and added traffic during any work.
“It needs sorting out. You can’t have people around it with their dogs and any children, who also play in the area.
“For me, the mill needs to be pulled down as what if there’s a severe storm, with 80moh winds? The rest of it may come down.
“But the main thing is that Casey’s and the Council meets with everyone who lives around here, so we all know exactly what is going to happen.”
A spokesperson for The Casey Group said: “The site has been made safe and secure. We have no further comment at this time.”