Peterborough historic mill developer says replacing public right of way that 'never really existed' is delaying project

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Transformation of listed mill unlikely to start this year

A requirement to replace a public right of way across a stretch of water is one of more than 30 conditions delaying the transformation of an historic flour mill in Peterborough, it has been claimed.

Developer Lioncross Whitworth is to create 62 apartments at the former Whitworth Mill site next to the River Nene at East Station Road, Fletton Quays, but has been told that a former right of way that ran across the water in front of the mill has to be replaced.

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Mike Craddock, director of Lioncross Whitworth, said: “Thirty years ago there was a timber public walkway built over the water in front of the mill.

This image shows how the redeveloped Whitworth mill and neighbouring apartments should appear once work is completed. The right of way would have run in front of the river entrance to the mill, rightThis image shows how the redeveloped Whitworth mill and neighbouring apartments should appear once work is completed. The right of way would have run in front of the river entrance to the mill, right
This image shows how the redeveloped Whitworth mill and neighbouring apartments should appear once work is completed. The right of way would have run in front of the river entrance to the mill, right

"That structure completely disappeared years ago. It is a right of way that doesn’t really exist. It is absurd but we’ve been told there is a requirement for the right of way to be replaced.

He added: "We can’t build a replacement walkway but we are looking to divert the path to go around the mill and join up with the public footpath by Town Bridge.

"But this work will take four to six months to complete and with another 35 conditions that we have to comply with means the actual construction of the apartments is not likely to start this side of Christmas.

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“There are 36 conditions set as part of the planning approval granted by Peterborough City Council that have to be met before we can start work.

“All these conditions have an impact on us. The cost is going to run into tens of thousands of pounds.

"Onerous regulations and requirements are an issue for many developers and are a reason why so many sites are not being developed. It wastes a lot of time and money.”

Planning approval for development was approved in February and will see the Mill, which was built in the 1840/50s, converted into 18 flats with three ground floor commercial premises. There will also be another 44 apartments arranged in three blocks.

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In a document submitted to the local authority, the council’s public rights of way officer states: “There is a substantial history regarding a public right of way that runs along the edge of the river in front of the mill which was interrupted many years ago when a bridge in front of the mill collapsed and the (former) landowner refused to rebuild it.

"The long running objective from the council with support from the local access forum was that as the site was developed that the route would be reinstated as closely as practicable and where possible give a riverside view.

He adds: “I am supportive of the development of this land and understand that diverting the public right of way is desirable but any changes to the route must be supported by a legal order.”

Lioncross Properties bought the site from Peterborough City Council in 2021.

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Just before the Covid-19 crisis the site had been sold to another developer, which had planned for the transformation of the Mill into a boutique hotel. The developer pulled out of the sale during the pandemic.

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