Planners have cleared the way for a historic mill building near Keighley to be given a new lease of life as an outdoor activity centre.

Ponden Mill at Stanbury, was a retail outlet until the chain’s demise several years ago but the Grade II Listed building is now set to be converted to provide accommodation as an outdoor activity centre, mainly for use by school parties.

It is hoped to open the site to campers for the Tour de France in July, with the first guests using indoor accommodation next summer, though the whole site is likely to take two years to redevelop.

The new centre should be able to accommodate about 64 children and the expectation is they will arrive and depart by minibus, meaning traffic levels should be lower than when the retail outlet operated.

Because of reduced traffic, the two car parks at the site will be reduced in size by about 50 per cent which will provide additional space for camping and archery areas. It also means the building is expected to be transformed, with a final appearance closer to its original design.

The existing 1950s asbestos roof will go, in favour of traditional blue slate. Windows will be replaced with 1820s Georgian style sliding sash frames, to suit the original character of the building, which was built as a cotton spinning mill in 1791.

The stone roof from cottages on the site has been stolen and will be replaced with slates, with other work to remove none-contemporary extensions.

A mill pond and goit will be restored to provide a wildlife habitat which will allow visitors to learn through ‘pond dipping’.

Owner Alan Trainer said: “It is a beautiful building and the location for an outdoor centre is perfect.

“The Pennine Way just about touches the property, there is a lake and plenty of room for activities. You couldn’t get a better position if you tried.”

A new water wheel is planned, to generate electricity which will be used to power water-source heat pumps that should keep the centre warm. Solar panels will also be used to generate additional electricity.