A green space near a Somerset town could be preserved as a country park and community farm using funding from housing developers.

Somerset West and Taunton Council is looking to purchase green fields between Wellington and the neighbouring village of Rockwell Green using money raised through the community infrastructure levy (CIL).

If the purchase is successful, the land will be leased to Wellington Town Council, allowing it to work with community organisations to bring forward a community farm, country park, new sports pitches and improved cycling facilities.

The proposals are expected to be signed off by the full council in the early summer, with councillors hoping the process can get underway before the new unitary Somerset Council formally takes charge in April 2023.

Council leader Federica Smith-Roberts described the plans as “a real good news story” when they came before the council’s corporate scrutiny committee in Taunton on Wednesday evening (June 1).

She said: “This is about consolidating the land in and around the Tonedale Mill area of Wellington so that we protect the open green spaces.

“We will use the allocated funds and look to work with Wellington Town Council by giving it a long-term lease of 125 years so that it can look to manage lots of different groups who will keep this asset in the community and benefit it.”

Somerset County Gazette: Proposed uses of the land between Wellington and Rockwell Green - Crown Copyright Somerset West and Taunton Council.Proposed uses of the land between Wellington and Rockwell Green - Crown Copyright Somerset West and Taunton Council.

Under the proposals, the district council will purchase a significant quantity of land between the southern edge of Fox’s Field (near Tonedale Mill) and Exeter Road, including all the land between the railway line and the existing houses on Riverside.

The land – which serves as a natural boundary between Rockwell Green and Wellington – will be leased to the town council on a 125-year lease, with Wellington Community Food, the Wellington Mills community interest company (WMCIC) and Transition Town Wellington all being involved in developing the site.

The initial vision for the site would see much of the land be turned into a community farm, with the existing allotments being extended and new sports pitches being provided immediately to the west of Wellington Sports Centre.

The western edge of the site, near Rockwell Green Primary School, will be left as a community park and conservation area, with existing footpaths being upgraded to encourage more walking and cycling to the town centre, the sports facilities and the Tonedale Mill area.

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Councillor Janet Lloyd, who represents the Wellington East ward, said she “wholeheartedly supported” this project.

She said: “With all the new housing developments coming to Wellington, some parts of the town attract CIL funding, and we are some of this to purchase our own green spaces.

“We recently bought Westford Field, as it’s known locally, which is the other side of the railway line – very close to this piece of land.

“We were thinking about purchasing this piece of land, but we would have to apply for a public works loan to be able to afford it.

“We desperately need more allotments. We have 100 on our Basins site, but we’re constantly having 20 people on the waiting list. We also need more sports pitches in our growing town.

“The current footpath through the green space is used constantly by walkers and cyclists.”

The proposals will be discussed further by the council’s executive committee on June 15 before coming to the full council for final approval on July 5.