Villagers at Mellor Brook were stunned to learn this week that Thwaites aims to relocate its brewery and head office there from Blackburn.
Thwaites announced yesterday (Tuesday) it was “delighted” to have secured the purchase of a seven-acre site at Sykes Holt, off the A59, and will invest up to £10m. on its new brewery, head office and visitor centre, employing about 200 people.
The company will apply to Ribble Valley Borough Council for planning consent over the coming months and hopes to start building early in 2015.
But the announcement, following negotiations between the brewers and Ribble Valley Council, came as a surprise to Mellor Brook residents.
“It’s the first I’ve heard of it. It’s a complete surprise,” said Coun. Stella Brunskill, who represents Mellor on Ribble Valley Borough Council.
“My main issue with this would be the amount of traffic on the A59. There’ll be another 200 people driving here, on top of the 4,000 a day we already get.
“Villages like ours, so near to an industrial zone, should be protected.
“Young people are being encouraged to come and live here, but it’s a village without facilities and I’m concerned about road safety.”
Sykes Holt, a farm cottage that dates from around 1500, is being sold by Mrs Pat Young, who is chairman of Mellor Parish Council, and her husband, Norman.
Heavy traffic from the nearby enterprise zone, just 10m away from the entrance to their property, prompted the couple to consider selling up and moving.
Mrs Young said: “We hadn’t decided to come out, but a lady from the agents approached us and said someone was interested in the land. The negotiations are not complete yet, so there’s not much else I can say.”
She added that when the brewery’s plans eventually come up for discussion at the parish council she would declare an interest and withdraw.
Rick Bailey, chief executive of Daniel Thwaites plc, said the project was very much in its early stages, and promised local representatives would be consulted throughout the planning process.
There’s more on this story in this week’s Clitheroe Advertiser & Times.