Prince Charles is pushing behind the scenes on the planned regeneration of the derelict Tone Works mill.
His Prince’s Regeneration Trust is in regular contact with planners at Taunton Deane and the council’s chief executive recently had a meeting at Clarence House.
Within the last 10 days TDBC has issued a legally binding Repairs Notice on the mill owners and if they fail to take steps to do the work, the Council could acquire the site through compulsory purchase to save it.
“Preserving and restoring this building is of national importance. The Borough Council is proud to play a part in ensuring Tone Works are brought back to life,” said Cllr Roger Habgood, who holds the planning policy portfolio.
Work just to stop the buildings and historic machinery from becoming completely derelict is estimated to cost in the region of £1m. Built in the 1830s by Fox Bros, the buildings were used for finishing cloth produced at the mill. It was often known as the Wet Works, using water from the adjoining River Tone for many processes.
It is considered a rare example of a 19th century cloth dyeing and finishing works and still contains the remnants of historic machinery.
There are reports that current Fox Bros owner Deborah Meaden would like to move the existing textiles business into a restored factory.
“We recognise the potential for economic regeneration and are looking to move into an action phase in the next 6-9 months,” said Ian Tims, deputy head of economic development at TDBC.
The repairs notice sets out a schedule of works which the Council considers are reasonably necessary for the proper preservation of the building. The work includes removing vegetation encroaching on the building, clearing rubbish and graffiti, securing the buildings to prevent vandals getting in, re-roofing, asbestos decontamination, and repairing windows and doors. Tarpaulins and sheeting would be installed to protect the historic machinery while the essential work is carried out.