AHF Supports Plans to regenerate Wellington's historic Tonedale Mill Site

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The AHF has recently awarded a Project Viability Grant to enable the newly established Wellington Mills CIC to explore options for the future use of the Grade II* Tonedale Mill site in Somerset.

The eleven acre site was built by Fox Bros wool manufacturers as the company developed from a cottage industry to industrialised production. Production started in the 1790s and Fox Bros grew rapidly over the next 150 years, employing around 5,000 people at its height. However, by the late 20th century Britain’s woollen industry was declining and in 1992 Fox Bros ceased production at Tonedale. The buildings were initially used by a variety of small businesses, but over the past 20 years the site has become vacant and deteriorated significantly.

This is a huge and challenging project but Wellington Mills CIC plan to regenerate the Tonedale Mill site on a building by building basis. They are proposing a mixed use development, incorporating housing, workspaces, including studios, offices, workshops and meeting rooms, along with a café and social spaces. The group also plan to create a new open air market place for the local community.

The AHF grant will enable the CIC to commission architects to test and establish the viability of the proposed scheme and to undertake a comprehensive community consultation.

“Having the backing of the AHF makes all the difference in terms of our credibility, being a new group facing a pretty enormous task at Tonedale,” said CIC director Keith Wheatley. “The Project viability Grant is crucial in terms of being able to work with an accredited architect and develop new visions for the buildings and site.”

Editor’s notes

The Architectural Heritage Fund is a registered charity, working since 1976 to promote the conservation and sustainable re-use of historic buildings for the benefit of communities across the UK, particularly in economically disadvantaged areas. We are the leading heritage social investor and the only specialist heritage lender operating in the UK. We provide advice, development grants and loans. For press enquiries please contact Ollie Brodrick Ward, on 020 79250199 / oliver.brodrick-ward@ahfund.org.uk