DEVELOPERS have been warned to halt illegal work at one of the country's most historically important industrial sites.

Taunton Deane Borough Council is threatening legal action if any more unauthorised work is carried out at Grade II listed Tonedale House and Grade II* listed Tonedale Mill, in Wellington.

The council, which is working with Historic England, says the interior of Tonedale House has been stripped out.

The authority believes the former boiler room at the mill could be torn down and the hugely important historic machinery ripped out and sold.

The complex, which has planning consent for conversion into flats, forms part of the historic Fox Bros woollen mills.

The buildings are historically and architecturally important and listing helps to protect them for present and future generations.

Listed Building Consent must be applied for if changes are to be made to a listed building.

The Deane is investigating whether any works have been carried out to the boiler room and machinery.

It is considering prosecution for unauthorised works carried out to date and the serving of an injunction to prevent any further loss of historic significance to the buildings.

A meeting with representatives from the developers is taking place today (Thursday), when the council is making its position clear and asking what measures will be taken to rectify what has been done.

Deane House leader Cllr John Williams said: “I am horrified at what’s taken place.

"Wellington’s industrial heritage is nationally significant and needs to be properly protected.

"I sincerely hope that we do not have to resort to legal action – but we will not hesitate to do so if circumstances demand that we do.”

John Ette, principal advisor for Historic England in the South West, said: “Grade II* listed Tonedale Mill is one of the most important mill complexes in the South West and Historic England has been working with Taunton Deane Borough Council to secure the preservation of the site.

"We are very concerned about the unauthorised works and support the actions of the council in safeguarding the mill and its contents.”

Tonedale Mill has planning consent for the conversion of the buildings to apartments.

It was built in the late 18th century for Fox Bros and was used for wool preparation and yarn spinning.