PLANS to improve public access to one of Hampshire’s most important buildings have received a boost.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has allocated £56,000 towards the cost of transforming Eling Tide Mill – and council chiefs hope eventually to be awarded a total of £1.2m.

Eling boasts the only working tide mill in Europe that produces flour for sale.

New Forest District Council and Totton and Eling Town Council want to enhance the grade II listed building as well as create a learning centre.

The aim is to allow more people to access the site and take part in hands-on learning.

Planned activities will result in visitors interacting with working models of the mill stones, taking part in baking demonstrations and joining guided walks of the area.

The 18th century mill is part of the Eling Experience, which embraces several historic sites in the area.

A Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) spokesman said: “The learning centre will provide a great insight into the heritage of the local area and enable people from near and far to learn about the important role the mill played in local community life.”

Totton and Eling Town Council welcomed the HLF’s initial support for the project.

Chairman Councillor Neville Penman said: “It’s fantastic news for the town and underlines the importance of a unique piece of local heritage.”