The completion of the £32million ‘Northlight’ regeneration of a landmark building has been hailed a success by council bosses - going from an old mill to 'an icon on a hill'.

Work on the grade ll listed Brierfield Mill began in 2016, after Pendle Council entered a joint venture with public and private funds.

Northlight is now home to new apartments, businesses, offices, industrial and storage space, Burnley FC in the Community’s sports and leisure facilities, an indoor children’s play site, arts and culture spaces, and adult education. There is also a a coffee shop, bar and events facility.

The redeveloped Brierfield Mill site is described as the flagship of the PEARL joint venture between Pendle Council and Barnfield Construction.

Yesterday (Thursday), Tim Webber MBE, chairman of Barnfield Construction and a Pendle Enterprise and Regeneration Ltd (PEARL) board member, spoke at a guided tour to mark the completion.

He said: “It has been a very long journey. But it’s important for a grade II-listed building to receive great care. We had to break the work down into manageable sections. ”

He said Liberata architects, as the first project managers, made an important decision to engage with Nelson & Colne College and Lancashire County Council to bring Lancashire Adult Learning there.

“That was the anchor that got us going and we created a vibrant head office,” said Mr Webber.

Then came Burnley FC In The Community, with sports and leisure facilities. Further development came with Funda, led by Kieran Fletcher.

Funda Land has children’s play areas, bumper cars, laser games, a cafe and children’s entertainment. Between 6,000 and 7,000 children typically visit Northlight each week for sports, leisure and play activities, with schools and their own families, it is estimated.

Mr Webber added: “This is a hot-spot for family entertainment across Lancashire. It has exemplar facilities.”

Take-up of business office space has been strong, along with new apartments sales, he said. Businesses there include architects Campbell Driver Partnership.

The In-Situ organisation has space for visiting artists and cultural projects. And Padiham-based Gawthorpe Textiles Collection has moved part of its collection there.

Its 30,000-item collection was established by Burnley-born philanthropist Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth. Today, it works with design students and institutes including Burnley College, Nelson & Colne College and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN).

Stephen Barnes, former chief executive of Pendle Council and chairman of the Nelson Town Deal Board, played a key role in Northlight.

He said: “It is difficult to articulate how great this is. It is shockingly brilliant - the range of uses, the economic impact. The regeneration of the canal side and neighbouring buildings. These have taken over a decade to achieve.

“In that time, there have been 10 prime ministers, different governments, different political administrations at Pendle Council and three chief executives.”

Labour Coun Asjad Mahmood, Pendle Council’s leader and a PEARL board member, said: “I want to thank everyone who has helped make this a reality. It is going to be enjoyed for generations to come. We are immensely proud of everything at Northlight. The old mill was in a poor state. Now it is an icon on a hill. It is a great example of partnership.

He added: “Nearby in Nelson, some very exciting work is being done by the Nelson Town Board, including road and park improvements, business and employment support. And Colne is seeing investment in its theatres and market hall.”

Pendle chief executive Rose Rouse said Northlight was an ‘immense achievement’. She paid tribute to Stephen Barnes and recalled how visitors from other councils had doubted that Northlight could be achieved.

She said: “They expected something smaller, less ambitious and less well deigned with minimum community impact, When they saw it, they said ‘wow’.

“Regeneration in Pendle is not easy because often people say the figures don’t stack-up. We often hear schemes are not viable under [Westminster] Treasury rules and investors will run away. However, we have shown a different approach here, where benefits pay-off in longer terms and differently. Northlight is the flagship of regeneration. It shows what is possible if you decided to make a difference.

“Pendle Council will be 50 years old this year. Northlight could not be a better 50th birthday present.”

The huge old cotton mill dates from 1832. It later became a base for Smith & Nephews fabric manufacturing but went on to face periods of dereliction and arson attack fears.

More than £22million came from private investment and over £9million from other sources.

Investment included £1.5million from Pendle Council using a grant from the Homes England agency, over £2million each from Burnley FC In the Community and Lancashire County Council, and nearly £5million from Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). Support also came from the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership and Lancashire County Council.