THE TRANSFORMATION of an old paper mill in Otley has been hailed as a ‘great example of economic regeneration’.

Paper production finally ceased at Garnett Mill, whose origins stretch back to the 18th Century, in 2005.

David Wilson Homes began work to turn the riverside plot into a new, 194 home development - Garnett Wharfe - seven years later and that scheme has now been completed.

The project - which also delivered a 44 unit apartment complex, 2,000 sq ft of office space, a restaurant and a new visitor centre - was supported by £2 million of loan funding. The money was provided by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) through the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

LEP Chair Roger Marsh OBE said: “I am delighted that the LEP was able to help support the Garnett Wharfe development with loan funding.

“This is a great example of how loan funding can help kick-start economic regeneration in the Leeds City Region.

“It also demonstrates our commitment to reducing carbon emissions in the City Region, and to investing in our region’s amazing natural assets to improve our environment and people’s quality of life.”

The site also features a new hydro-electric scheme, which has enabled the development to become carbon neutral on an offset basis, while a fish pass has been created on the weir. Other environmental works that were carried out as part of the scheme included the creation of an otter holt.

Leeds City Council Leader Councillor Judith Blake (an Otley resident) said: “I’m delighted that loan funding from the LEP has played such a key role in transforming this derelict brownfield site into a vibrant new development and visitor attraction for Otley.

“Not only does the new development help meet housing demand in the town, it also offers brilliant new opportunities for people to explore the local area and wildlife.”

Technical Director at David Wilson Homes Yorkshire West, Dave Hudson, added: “We’re so proud of the site at Garnett Wharfe; it’s a beautiful home for people and wildlife, harnesses the natural resources of the area and celebrates an iconic feature in Otley’s history, while providing a home for many generations to come.

“I have been involved in the development since the early stages so seeing the final outcome is really exciting.”

The LEP Growing Places Fund provides loan funding to help kick-start stalled development or infrastructure projects that will create jobs or deliver other local economic benefits.

Repaid loads are reinvested into schemes that support economic growth and communities in the Leeds City Region.