• Indigo Planning; Backbarrow Indigo Planning; Backbarrow

Backbarrow Ironworks



ArchitectSmyth & Associates

ClientSarah Bell and Philip Duffy, Joint Law of Property Act Receivers

In 2015, Indigo was appointed to assist development of a site within the Lake District National Park. The site contained 17 part-built live work units, two large vacant offices and the remnants of Backbarrow Ironworks – a charcoal fuelled furnace built in 1711, believed to be the only remaining example of its type – considered one of the most at-risk industrial plots in England.

Indigo’s objective was to obtain permission for development within the part-constructed buildings and secure the Ironworks from further deterioration.

The Lake District National Park had not previously granted permission for open market housing, and long-established planning policies restricted new residential development to only few local occupancy dwellings, with the remainder affordable housing. Indigo successfully argued there were significant material considerations outweighing the conflict with these policies.

Through liaison with the local community, National Park Officers and Members, Indigo secured permission for 48 open market dwellings and five affordable homes, conditioned that people living or working within the park had first refusal to purchase the apartments. This approach was fully supported by the local community.

We also demonstrated that the site was no longer suitable for the scale of employment development, as demolition of the office buildings would provide room for significant landscaping, improving residential amenity. As a compromise, the Pug Mill building was approved for office conversion, retaining an element of employment on the site.

By winning the support of both Haverthwaite Parish Council, and local residents, Indigo secured consent to demolish the office buildings, agreeing a detailed package of restoration works for the Ironworks.

Key to success, was involvement with the community and close relationships with the local authority. Indigo frequently met with Haverthwaite Parish Council to understand local views and provide comfort that development would be completed, and the Scheduled Ancient Monument preserved. They organised local community drop-in events ensuring residents were kept up to date with progress and concerns such as a dangerous main road were addressed.

Indigo illustrated how the scheme would deliver significant environmental, social and economic benefits. Furthermore, the development would also provide an opportunity to regenerate the site and provide public access. The site would then be made flood resilient through construction of a defensive wall along the River Leven.

From a social perspective, the scheme will attract more residents to the village, and provide increased local expenditure and help sustain the local school.

The two office buildings heavily constraining the site were demolished in November 2017, and work to secure the deterioration of the Scheduled Ancient Monument was completed in May 2018.