Somerset

Old Morlands factory in Somerset begins new era

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Media captionThe old Morlands sheepskin factory in Glastonbury closed in 1982 and has been derelict ever since

A former sheepskin factory in Somerset, derelict for more than 30 years, is getting ready to welcome a new era.

The old Morlands site on the edge of Glastonbury, seen as both a landmark and an eyesore, has been empty since the recession of the 1980s.

Part of the factory was saved by locals in 2008. They formed a community-owned company - the Red Brick Building Centre - and raised £500,000 to restore it.

It is being redeveloped in to office space for businesses and charities.

The first tenants will move into their studio spaces in the new year. They include a tent maker and children's charity Barnardo's.

New future

Image caption The Red Brick Building Centre raised almost £500,000 to restore part of the derelict Morlands site

"We've got to begin to learn not to gratuitously knock something down that was perfectly good, and build up something fairly tacky in its place just because its quicker and easier," said Robin Howell, director and former builder.

The whole 30-acre (12 hectares) site previously operated as a sheepskin factory and the Morlands and Baileys tanneries for more than 100 years.

The tanneries closed in 1982 and 1992 respectively and the site has been derelict ever since.

A section of the venue has already been developed into an industrial park. Planning permission for a £5m hotel was also approved in May.

Mendip District Council approved the 1.83 acres (0.74 hectares) 60-bedroom, three-storey Premier Inn on land at the former Morlands factory site.

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