England’s former rugby captain is pushing forward with ambitious plans to demolish and relocate his textile factory in Chorley.
Sporting legend Bill Beaumont wants to pull down the building on Deighton Road to make way for 63 new homes, but insists his company will remain in the town.
The ex-British Lion said: “The business has had roots in Chorley since 1888, but the building is old and it’s uneconomical.
“I want to take the business forward and move to a unit at the Chorley North industrial estate.
“It’s important to stay in the area and show a commitment to my workforce. This town has been a big part of my life.”
A detailed planning application has now been submitted by Jones Homes Fylde to build the two-storey properties on the land which Mr Beaumont plans to sell.
Bill Beaumont Textiles has customers around the world and specialises in upholstery, cushions and curtain fabrics, and the entrepreneur intends to expand after the relocation, to include marquee hiring.
The plans, which are being considered by Chorley Borough Council, include seven affordable units and associated infrastructure.
Mr Beaumont, who also has a CBE, added: “We’d always thought that building houses at the site would be a good idea, because the factory is surrounded by homes.
“We are very aware of our neighbours though, and want to leave with good grace and make sure they feel comfortable with the move.”
Outline planning approval was granted in 2009, but residents whose gardens back onto the factory wall were worried about losing privacy if it was taken down and replaced with a low fence.
Now, developers have listened to their concerns and assured them the wall will stay put.
Robert Tuson, 49, who lives on Collingwood Road at the back of the factory, said: “My main issue was being overlooked, but the contractors have resolved that problem now, and I’d rather have houses at the back than a factory.
“At the moment, we’re looking down onto an old factory roof, so the view would be better if gardens were there instead.”
The factory was built by the Beaumont family in 1914, but he hopes the ball will start rolling to demolish it by autumn this year.
He also wants to employ more staff in the future, and is not making any redundancies as part of the change.
The plans are being put under public consultation, and people can voice their views to Chorley Council up until June 24.