DEVELOPERS wanting to convert Carleton Mill into residential accommodation have won their battle.

Craven District Council's planning committee gave the go-ahead on Monday for Novo Homes to convert the listed mill and site into a total of 77 residential units.

Planning officer Colin Preston said he had received a petition, with about 300 signatures, from residents in Carleton supporting the plans.

However, not all were in favour. Former mill owner Bruce Aspinall, questioned the logic of converting a commercial building into residential units and asked if the council planned to use green field sites for new business build.

Jim Wales, speaking on behalf of the applicant, said he believed the majority of local residents wanted to see the conversion of the historic mill. He said original objectors had been consulted and had their worries dealt with.

He added that the Secretary of State had shown his agreement to the proposal and listed building consent had now been given.

Coun John Binns, who was made redundant from Gaskell Carpets when the mill shut 12 months ago, said arguments were made by management at the time the factory closed that it was not a viable commercial option.

He added: "At the time of closure, it would have been fair to say that the majority of people in Carleton would have been in favour of keeping the site for employment purposes."

However, he said with the closure and 108 people being made unemployed, the shops and small businesses in the village had suffered, with some losing 30 per cent of their trade.

Coun Binns added local residents were afraid the site would fall into a state of dereliction and vandalism if left any longer.

Coun Ken Hart said: "It's great to see this finally coming to an end," and Coun Jean Harrison said: "I'm thankful this mill is not going to fall into rack and ruin."

Coun David Ireton added: "I think the architects on this have done a splendid job, especially getting parking inside this mill."

Coun Ken Hart said that in the future when large developments were discussed, he would like to see the planning committee holding meetings in the village concerned.

As the Herald reported last week, Novo Homes has agreed to provide a financial contribution towards affordable housing in the village in lieu of providing housing on the site. Members agreed this should be an "appropriate sum of no less than £50,000".

The developer will also provide additional facilities on the existing recreation ground, together with a three metre wide access road.

Furthermore, Novo Homes has also agreed to provide a new classroom at Carleton Primary School to cater for the additional pupils expected to be generated by the development.

The village will also gain traffic calming measures. All four matters are to be secured through legally binding agreements.

The mill will be converted into 51 flats with 85 car parking spaces in the basement. The central inner bay of the mill between the first floor and roof level is to be removed with access to the flats via internal balconies linked with bridges. A lift would also be installed.

On the north side of the mill, where ancillary buildings previously stood, 18 new houses will be built, combining a mixture of two and three storey units.

There are also plans to convert an existing building next to Beckside to four residential units. The engine house would also be converted to two houses and the loading bay buildings into two houses.

It is proposed that nine of the 59 dwellings, which will be converted from old buildings, will have a dual residential and office use to provide employment opportunities for people who wish to work from home.