A developer is calling on the community of Leek to make comment on proposals he has for a site of currently derelict buildings in the town centre. Ryan Davies has recently moved to the Moorlands and has purchased the currently vacant former Silk Shade mill site which is situated in Silk Street – adjacent to Silk Street Car Park in Leek.
A developer is calling on the community of Leek to make comment on proposals he has for a site of currently derelict buildings in the town centre.
Ryan Davies has recently moved to the Moorlands and has purchased the currently vacant former Silk Shade mill site which is situated in Silk Street – adjacent to Silk Street Car Park in Leek.
Ryan is hoping to develop the site into four dwellings – one of which he will live in himself, another possibly for his Nan to move into, and then he will either rent or sell the two remaining properties.
He is now appealing to the folk of Leek to make comments on his plans, before he submits a planning application to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council.
Ryan told the Leek & Moorlands Echo: “I first viewed the property in February 2021, I fell in love with the exposed oak beam roof and the charm of the silk street frontage.
“I knew the project had a lot of potential. I purchased the mill, and the sale completed in July this year, following the completion of my previous project, a house I purchased for myself.
“I am a dance/theatre photographer and due to Covid was unable to work for nearly two years, also unable to get trades people to complete the work so completed most the work myself.
“Following completion I made the difficult decision to sell as we weren’t sure if photography would recover. I’m back working regularly as a photographer now Covid restrictions have eased.”
Ryan continued: “This project is rescuing not just an existing building, but a building on the local ‘buildings at risk’ register, and a grade 2 listed property, so clearly a building of significance and importance.
“The building has lay vacant, falling into a terrible state of disrepair for the past 60 years, as a use for the property has failed to be found so it’s really important something is done.
“The building sits in a prominent position in respect to it’s location just off the Silk Street car park – the main car park for visitors, so one of the first impressions visitors have of Leek upon their arrival.
“Therefore, I believe this building is an essential asset to Leek and the local community.
“There is a shortage of housing, I am undecided if I will sell or rent the properties when complete. “There is a greater shortage of rentals in Leek, an even greater shortage of high end properties in the town centre.”
Ryan added: “With all the above in mind, I felt it was important we addressed this building with not only the respect it deserved but also, considering when originally built, the building had little importance or significance, it was an industrial building equivalent to the metal warehouse structures we see on industrial estates today, therefore, for me, mimicking/copying that style seemed somehow insulting to the building.
“The building is now of historic importance and significance, therefore our approach should demand architectural importance and significance with a design that allows you to read and interpret the buildings history easily, clearly defining the original 300 year old Mill and the modern 21st century additions paying tribute to the industrial past through the use of industrial materials.
“Another challenge was converting an industrial mill, never designed to be lived in, into comfortable housing that meets modern requirements, without compromise, the outriggers were essential in providing enough space within the properties.
“Finally, in our current climate, environmental impact should be the top of our priority, the detached property which I will hopefully, eventually reside will be a passivhaus – the ultimate benchmark in environmentally friendly, sustainable developments, the house will be so well insulated it will maintain a constant temperature throughout the year with a heat recovery system filtering and circulating the air around the property taking heat from area’s like the kitchen in circulating this around the rest of the property, and extracting condensation / moisture from the bathroom.
“The property will be triple glazed with solar panels and we are looking at rain water harvesting and other such technologies to further reduce the carbon footprint of the building. Careful consideration is being paid to construction methods and materials not just in respect to their initial carbon footprint but the sustainability of the materials and the longevity.
“This approach is being extended across the entire site as much as possible, the construction methods used in the detached property will also be used on the outriggers, we intend to build an internal block cavity wall around the entire perimeter of the mill to strengthen and support the structure and provide much needed insulation in the cavity space. The frontage of the building will be restored to it’s original intended design with Critall windows throughout and secondary glazing.
“We are hoping to incorporate air source heat pumps and other environmentally friendly technologies throughout.
“All properties will be constructed and finished to the highest standards to provide Leek with a development which we hope will inspire and lead the way in future design and development. We will be adding three electric car charging points.”
Ryan has looked into the history of the site to come up with names for the properties. He said: “On researching the history of the building I learned that in the 1860’s the Silk Shade was closed and the property was subdivided into three separate units, these were occupied by Ralph Basset, a wood turner, Matthew Brook, a rag and bone dealer, and finally William Shaw a nail maker.
“This influenced our decision to create three properties within the Mill and we wish to name them Basset House, Brook House and Shaw House, and the detached property Silk Shade.
“It is important to me the local community support this idea, and I do welcome all feedback.”
Anyone wishing to make comment on Ryan’s plans for the Silk Street site can email him at email@example.com or call him on 07590 115391.
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