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Council Issues Repairs Notices at Tonedale Mill

02 June 2020 : Council news

Somerset West and Taunton Council has served repairs notices on the owners of Wellington’s historic Tonedale Mill.

The Council has issued three Repairs Notices under Section 48 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990) to the owners and occupiers of these nationally important listed buildings.

Grade II* listed Tonedale Mill is one of the most significant former textile mills in the south west of England. The site was particularly renowned for production of military serge and puttees which were used for soldiers in World War One.

Whilst the site was originally much bigger, a significant proportion of the original mill remains, but since their heyday many of the privately-owned buildings have fallen into disrepair. The majority of the site is owned by Mancraft Limited who acquired it in November 2014.

Since 2017, the Council and Historic England have been investigating all options to ensure the repairs, deemed to be reasonably necessary for the proper preservation of the historic site, are completed.

The Council has been negotiating with representatives of Mancraft Limited directly, alongside being required to issue a number of statutory measures.

Previous actions have included serving an Urgent Works Notice (Section 54 Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Area) Act 1990) in Spring 2018; a Section 215 Notice (Town and Country Planning Act, 1990) and an Enforcement Notice (Section172 Town and County Planning Act 1990) in Summer 2018.

Some site clearance works and site perimeter improvements were carried out in late 2019 following these statutory notices, but the Council has not seen suitable progress on these and other necessary works throughout that part of the site owned and controlled by Mancraft Limited.

The Council has now issued the Section 48 Repairs Notices for the East and West Complexes and Tonedale House specifying the repairs which it considers are reasonably necessary to ensure the proper preservation of those buildings.

Mancraft Ltd have been given two months in which to formally respond to the Notices and put forward their firm proposals to enact repairs to the listed buildings in their ownership, including a timetable for implementation.

If reasonable steps have not been taken for properly preserving the listed buildings, the legalisation entitles the Council to make a Compulsory Purchase Order.

SWTs Executive Member for Planning and Transport, Councillor Mike Rigby, said: “There has been a significant amount of work taking place behind the scenes over the past few years working alongside Historic England.

Whilst there is a lot of work still to be done we have reached the point where intervention is needed to secure this historically important site using the Council’s powers to secure necessary repairs to historic buildings.

We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively to save this asset and bring back to life a significant area of the Tonedale and Wellington community.”

SWTs Heritage Champion, Councillor Roger Habgood, added: “This is really good news for Wellington. We are proud of our local history and I’m encouraged by these steps forward in the extremely important task of protecting this nationally recognised mill complex.

I hope the combined efforts of SWT and Historic England mean that real progress can now be made in preserving this significant part of Wellington’s heritage.”

Rebecca Barrett, Regional Director for Historic England in the South West, said:
“We are very concerned about the condition and safety of Tonedale Mill. The building is on our Heritage at Risk Register and is one of our highest priorities in the South West.

We have been working closely with the Council to secure a future for these striking buildings, and will continue to offer advice and support to bring Tonedale Mill back into use as an asset for the local community and economy”.