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Urgent Works Notice issued at Tonedale Mill

27 January 2022 : Council news

Somerset West and Taunton (SWT) Council has served an Urgent Works Notice on Mancraft Ltd, the primary owners of Wellington’s Grade II* listed Tonedale Mill.

The Notice has been issued under Section 54 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, to prevent further deterioration to one of the site’s principal buildings known as Block H, which is located in the East Complex of Tonedale Mill.

Regarded as one of the best-preserved examples of its kind, Tonedale Mill was the largest textile manufacturing site in the South West, famous for producing twill fabrics such as ‘serge’, and later khaki cloth and puttees used by the British Army in WWI.

A significant proportion of the early 19th century mill remains, however, many of the privately-owned buildings have fallen into disrepair and are now registered as ‘Heritage at Risk’ by Historic England.

Although previous statutory notices have been served by the Council, many of their requirements have not been fully complied with by Mancraft Ltd.

Previous actions have included serving an Urgent Works Notice (Section 54 Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990) in Spring 2018 in respect of Tonedale House; a Section 215 Notice (Town and Country Planning Act 1990) in early 2020; an Enforcement Notice (Section 172 Town and County Planning Act 1990) in Summer 2018 in respect of unauthorised caravans; and most significantly, three Repairs Notices (Section 48 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990) in June 2020 as the first step in a potential compulsory purchase of the site.

The owners at Mancraft Ltd have been given 14 days to demonstrate that they intend to start the urgent repair works without delay.

Executive Member for Planning and Transport, Cllr Mike Rigby, said: “Historic buildings add significant value to the character of our built environment and the preservation of the nationally important buildings at Tonedale Mill remains a priority for us.

“Unfortunately, the listed buildings have been allowed to deteriorate over many years due to inaction on the part of the current owners, and we were obliged to serve a number of statutory notices requiring repairs.

“We’ve now served a further Urgent Works Notice requiring essential repairs to be carried out to Block H, which is a prominent and historically important building within the larger Tonedale Mills site.

“I sincerely hope this latest course of action motivates Mancraft Ltd to complete the works specified within the next two weeks.

“Should they fail to comply, we have the power to undertake the works directly in default, the cost of which can be reclaimed from the owners.”

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