A FORMER factory which was once a thriving manufacturing hub employing more than 1,500 people is set to be given a new lease of life after being acquired by a new owner.

The historic David Brown plant, in Penistone, shut at the end of last year when its former owner, SPX, concentrated its production at another UK plant.

The four-acre Green Road site has been bought by Barnsley-based property business Fairbank Investments, whose bosses hope to redevelop it to bring employment to the town.

Although a planning application is yet to be lodged with Barnsley Council, the firm told the Chronicle it was excited to have acquired a site familiar to many in the local area.

Opened by shipmaker Cammell Laird in the late 19th century, the site was mothballed in 1930 but taken over by industrialist Sir David Brown in 1935.

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Sir David’s business empire included tractor and gearbox manufacturing operations and carmaker Aston Martin, whose models still include his initials.

He set up foundry, pumps and fabrication operations in Penistone which produced bullet-proof castings during the Second World War and later specialised in manufacturing pumps for the global oil and gas industry.

Family-owned Fairbank Investments agreed a deal to purchase the site after the plant closed, resulting in redundancies in the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

Alex Sewell, of Fairbank Investments, said: “This is an historic site that has given so much already in terms of employment for generations of people in Penistone and the surrounding areas.

“We would like to bring back something to benefit the town and, as a local company, we are keen to discuss opportunities with those who might have a positive use for it.

“There is also the possibility of the site being redeveloped for mixed use such as a gym, storage facility, trade counter or housing, obviously subject to the relevant planning permissions.”

The site - not allocated in the council’s local plan development blueprint for housing - is still designated for employment use and any change would have to be approved by planning bosses.

Penistone West’s Coun Hannah Kitching added: “This site is ‘urban fabric’ within the local plan and is not allocated for housing.

“While I always welcome and encourage brownfield rather than green belt development for housing it is important to note that this site has been a valuable source of employment for Penistone residents, and jobs are just as important as houses.

“I was saddened when the site closed last year, resulting in job losses, so I wish to see this site retained for employment purposes as outlined in the local plan.”