The leader of an East Lancashire local authority has hailed the latest progress on renovating a historic industrial building.

Blackburn with Darwen Council's political boss Councillor Phil Riley spoke out after the borough's planning committee approved the latest repairs to Imperial Mill on Thursday night.

Councillors approved work to overhaul the roof of the giant mill's loading bay and the removal of nine windows and temporary boarding up of 27 more.

The authority bought the imposing mill in Gorse Street in February 2023 with the aim of restoring it to its former glory as a job creating hub for creative industries and cultural activities.

Thursday night's planning approval was the second made for the building, after the committee approved in April the demolition of its boiler house, engine room extension, masonry annex and steel structure.

Lancashire Telegraph: Imperial Mill in Gorse StreetImperial Mill in Gorse Street

Earlier this month it emerged emergency works were required to stop the 'inevitable' collapse of the main roof of the landmark building,

Its decaying windows also pose a 'major health and safety risk' to passers-by, documents showed.

The dangerous state of the heritage-listed 1901 building was revealed in reports submitted with a separate planning application for urgent repairs to its main roof and windows.

Cllr Riley said after the meeting: "Imperial Mill is a landmark building – an impressive and characterful former cotton spinning mill built at the turn of the 20th Century.

Lancashire Telegraph: Council leader Cllr Phil RileyCouncil leader Cllr Phil Riley

“Residents are rightly proud of our rich heritage here in Blackburn with Darwen and are keen that we safeguard historic buildings like this.

“The council bought the building to ensure that it’s appropriately restored as part of our long-term plan for the area.

"It’s also a really good opportunity for us to develop new cultural uses and related employment opportunities.

“The mill is also uniquely located, adjacent to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal - which is central to our Linear Park aspiration - and Carl Fogarty Way, our new commercial investment corridor.

“While it’s very, very early days for our plans, this planning application is important to help make the building safe and do all we can to help protect it.

“This is something we’re determined to do.

“This is a long-term project, but we’ve already successfully secured funding through the government’s Shared Prosperity Fund and our Levelling Up Partnership.

“These schemes take time to get right."

Conservative regeneration spokesperson Cllr Paul Marrow - who has previously warned 'Imperial Mill is at risk of becoming a 'white elephant' with a spiralling cost to the authority and its council taxpayers' - told the meeting: "We are going to hear a lot more about this project at planning committee because there is a lot of work that needs doing."