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Gin project is a tonic
JOBS, gin and a boost to the local economy are all set to flow from the creation of a new tourist attraction and distillery for a world-famous gin maker on the site of an historic mill in north Hampshire.
Bombay Spirits Company, part of Bacardi Ltd, has won permission to transform Laverstoke Mill, between Overton and Whitchurch, into the sole production facility for its Bombay Sapphire gin – creating enough for around 20 million bottles a year.
The distillery will be open to the public to give visitors an insight into the history of the drink and how it is made. There will also be a separate “heritage” facility celebrating the history of the mill site, which formerly produced banknote paper for the Bank of England. It is estimated as many as 100,000 visitors could come to the attraction each year.
The two-hectare site has been vacant since 2005 and has fallen into disrepair. John Burke, global category director for Bacardi Ltd, told the borough councillors that 25 full-time jobs would be created and the scheme would pump millions of pounds into the local economy.
Speaking after permission was granted by the borough’s development control committee, he said: “We are delighted with the news that we can move forward with our aim to restore Laverstoke Mill to its former glory by creating a world-class centre, imagined with the highest environmental and design standards in mind.”
As part of the planning permission, some of the existing buildings will be demolished while others will be repaired, the original water mill will also be restored.
At a public consultation last year, residents expressed concern that the spirit would be transported to Warrington, in Cheshire, to be bottled, leading to extra heavy goods vehicles travelling down the B3400.
Overton, Laverstoke and Freefolk ward councillor Paula Baker also addressed the committee, voicing her disappointment that Hampshire County Council did not support proposals to reduce the B3400 to 30 miles-per-hour past the site.
However, her fellow ward councillor, Cllr Ian Tilbury, described the project as “wonderful”. He said: “I think it is just brilliant. It will bring people in, tidy up the area up and be an asset for the entire borough.”
The committee unanimously backed the proposals and granted planning permission, listed building and conservation area consent.