WORK to finally demolish one of Burnley’s largest eyesores has begun in earnest – paving the way for a £20million regeneration of the Leeds Liverpool Canal waterfront.

But a county and borough councillor says more could have been done to preserve the old Lambert Howarth mill, in Finsley Gate, before the excavators moved in to tear down the 170-year-old building.


Several false starts have been made at the former shoe factory, which is now being pulled down to make way for 149 homes, including 18 townhouses, on behalf of Birmingham-based St Modwen’s.

Cllr Jeff Sumner, who worked for Lambert Howarth for 10 years and represents the Burnley Wood ward, said: “It is a listed building and more effort should have been put in to save the old mill.

“The council acted too late, in my view, to do anything about its deterioration, until we were left in a position where it had to come down.”

But he said he supported the principle of new housing for the area, which is a prime location.

Council leader Cllr Mark Townsend said: “The building has been an eyesore for too long and this should expand our opportunities to regenerate our canalside areas, complementing the work we have already been involved with along Trafalgar Street and Sandygate.”

Security barriers and large hoardings will restrict access to the main site during the bulk of the works. One smaller mill building adjoining the larger structure is being saved.

The demolition of Healey Royd Mill, to the south of the canal, has formed a central part of the masterplan for the area, with plans for a hotel and leisure facilities being discussed for the cleared land.

A spokesman for Rodgers Leask, the demolition agents, said: “The demolition of this mill building is complicated by changes in site levels, the adjacency of the highway, canal, retaining walls, a live substation and the adjoining existing mill building, which is to be retained.”

Work at Lambert Howarth was transferred overseas from East Lancashire in the late 1990s.

The site has been in St Modwen’s hands since 2004.