AN old sweets factory in Bury - which dates back to the 19th century - could be set for a new lease of life.

Blueprints have been lodged with the borough council by the representatives of St David Project Omega Ltd for the former Scott and Rosse confectioners building in Topping Street.

The developer wants to convert the Topping Mill site into 32 apartments, while making new window openings to provide a more light and airy aspect for would-be residents.

Paul Feehilly, a planning consultant has told borough planners that the old mill has been vacant for some time, having last been used as a carpets warehouse and an auctions site latterly.

He has stressed that the building was currently in "a very poor condition" and added nothing to the street scene.

An asbestos removal scheme had already been undertaken by the new owners, ahead of any new development and a bat survey is being commissioned.

Repeated efforts had been made to market the former mill for industrial or commercial purposes, without success, the planning department has heard.

Mr Feehilly says that the developer is also keen to celebrate the name of Scott and Rosse, which used the premises until the 1960s.

He added: "The applicant proposes to restore an original sign embedded within brickwork detailing to the Topping Street elevation to recognise and celebrate the building’s industrial origins."

An assessment of any possible affordable housing element to the overall package is being awaited by council officers.

And a survey has been conducted to assess on-street and off-street parking provisions locally.

The developer has stressed that cycle stores would be provided and that Topping Mill is close to the main bus routes into Bury along nearby Rochdale Road. Car club schemes for residents could also be explored, they say.

Planning agent Stuart Thornhill, of Newcastle-under-Lyme based Jonathan Come Associates, added: "This application provides a positive proposal which seeks to bring back a currently redundant dilapidated industrial premises into use and secure its long-term future.

"The proposal seeks to be sympathetic to the existing property and surrounding area, maintaining the character and appearance of the building whilst meeting the need to evolve and adapt to current needs."