AN eco-friendly office development in the heart of the Ribble Valley will become a haven for wildlife as well as business, according to developers.

Brook Side Barn, Downham, is a former stone agricultural building that has been transformed into four offices and could bring white collar work to the village.

And the building has been designed so that 20 concrete tubes have been inserted in to the stone work in which birds can nest; a space for bats to roost has been created and there will even be an outside area were dogs can be tied up so that workers can bring their pets to the office.

Constructed by the Downham Estate, owner Ralph Assheton said it could provide a tangible boost for the village.

He said: “Being right in the middle of Downham, which is a planning conservation area, we would not have got permission for another house.

“There was no office space in the village so this has allowed us to diversify and bring something different to Downham.

“It will mean there are more people in the village throughout the day and can have a knock-on effect for other businesses such as the post office and pub which could see increased trade.”

The barn was badly damaged by fire in the 1950s and has been largely underused ever since.

It has been refurbished using mainly local businesses. These have included Downham-based tradesmen such as builder John Faraday, carpenter Cliff Jones, decorator Mark Holden, furniture maker Paul Case and landscaper Chris Raw.

Other East Lancashire firms have also contributed to the project and the office also has a shower for workers looking to cycle to work and avoid the escalating cost of fuel.

Mr Assheton added: “We have tried to keep the external character of the building as much as possible so that it’s in keeping with the rest of the village.

“It could be the kind of place that would appeal to people fed up of commuting and want to work to near to where they live.”