DARWEN'S India Mill and its famous chimney have been sold in a £12million deal which could bring more jobs to the town.

Active Asset Investment Management, based in London, now plans to expand the complex's letting space.

Currently 30 per cent of the mill, which includes the base of local Government service provider Capita, is unused.

The company bought the Turner portfolio when Peter and Barry Turner, who inherited the mill from their parents, retired after extensively restoring the mill a few years ago.

Bosses said the companies currently based in the mill - who let space - will benefit from the sale, with reviews planned for of all letting spaces.

Managing agents for the company, Chainbow, said the idea was to enhance and improve facilities for all existing and potential future new companies.

Roger Southam, of Chainbow said: "We want to get the 30 per cent of the building not used up to scratch and let it out. There are no definite plans as to whether it will be let to lots of small companies or one big one.

"But it will certainly bring jobs based at India Mill. We will be assessing existing tenants spaces to see if they have enough or too much office space. But apart from that it will not affect the existing businesses. We want to reinvent the identity of India Mill as a fully working high class business centre."

India Mill, was built between 1859 and 1871 by Eccles Shorrock & Company and much of the building including the chimney - the largest in the UK - was completed in the 1960s.

The brick-built Grade II listed Victorian mill provides approximately 22,312sq metres of production, storage, office and business centre accommodation on a site area of 4.18 acres.

Property entrepreneurs and directors of the firm Robert Whitton and Daren Burney's recently-formed the joint venture to buy the portfolio, which includes office and industrial buildings in Hyde and Cambridge.

Robert Whitton is co-founder and chief executive of AIM Group plc, which has a £450 million UK portfolio and both businessmen run various other private property companies.

Mr Whitton said: "We are very pleased to acquire this portfolio with its prime asset of India Mill, which we intend to actively manage to create a fantastic and unique working environment."