THE OWNER of an important and historic complex of mills has been told to carry out repairs - or risk losing the building.

Somerset West and Taunton Council has once again issued a repair notice to the owners and occupiers of the Tonedale Mill buildings in Wellington.

Three repairs notices have been served under the Planning Act 1990.

The council has previously issued similar notices and orders on the owners, which includes Mancraft Ltd.

Some site clearance works and site perimeter improvements were carried out in late 2019 following these statutory notices, but the council says it 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 has been given two months in which to formally respond to the notices and put forward its firm proposals to enact repairs to the listed buildings in iys 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, which means the council could force the owners to give up the buildings.

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.

"While 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.”

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.

While the site was originally much bigger, a significant proportion of the original mill remains, but many of the privately-owned buildings have fallen into disrepair. The majority of the site is owned by Mancraft Limited, which 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.

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."