After years of delays and degradation, work to restore an icon of the South Downs to its former glory should finally start next week.
Halnaker Windmill has been closed off to the public since 2013 and without its sails since early 2015.
Following a series of hold ups due to bad weather and planning approval, West Sussex County Council has confirmed that scaffolding should go up on Monday, March 20, weather depending, so the restoration work can at last begin.
A spokesman for West Sussex County Council said: “We are taking this project very seriously and any delay has been because of the number of different bodies who have to be consulted to make sure the final result will meet with everyone’s approval.”
The news has been greeted with delight from residents who have long been campaigning for the restoration work to start.
Sarah London regularly walks her dogs up Halnaker Hill and runs a Halnaker Windmill Facebook page.
Sarah said: “This is fabulous news, I’m so pleased.
“Hopefully she will be restored to her full beauty and glory and given the respect the mill deserves.
“She is the keeper of views and the guardian of the South Downs, seen from miles around so it’s great that her sails will once more return.
“I’m genuinely relieved and very hopeful for her long-term future, as long as she is cared for and maintained by West Sussex County Council consistently and never again neglected.”
The Grade 2 listed building is thought to date back to the 1740s and was a observation post during the Second World War.
It was first closed off in May 2013 after a beam fell on a man inside following alleged vandalism.
In 2015 the sails were removed for safety reasons, despite them having been replaced in 2011.
Now work on the tile-hung façade, due to happen last year, will begin next week.
Then the large sails, which have been kept in storage, will be repaired and redecorated before being reinstated.
Halnaker resident Sue Bather added: “Brilliant, I’m really pleased.
“I probably walk up there once a week in the summer and it’s been such a shame to see those horrible hoardings around it for so long.”
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