Campaigners to keep public access to Fox’s Field have won the right to have the eight acres of land adjoining Tonedale Mill registered as a town green under the 2006 Commons Act. When confirmed by Somerset County Council the new status will grant permanent protection of the field for dog-walkers, nature lovers and other recreational users.
“We are delighted that our application to have Fox’s Field made into a Town Green has passed its first major hurdle This is a much loved field, used for decades by local people and it would be catastrophic if this green space were to be built on,” said Lindsay Birch, who lives nearby and lodged the application.
“We are not there yet, but it’s a very big first hurdle we’ve got over. I would like to extend my thanks to Wellington Mills CIC for their invaluable support with the Town Green application.”
The community interest company supported Lindsay in compiling a complex file of maps and other evidence of long-term community use of the field. “We were delighted to be able to help Lindsay with a very complex and demanding application to the county council,” said Wellington Mills spokesman Keith Wheatley. “She’s done a fantastic job.”
Estate agents Greenslade Taylor Hunt were asking for offers of around £80,000 for the field which is being sold by Courtleigh Securities, the company that owned Fox Bros factory when it first closed 25 years ago. They have since sold the mill buildings to other developers but retained the field – which was once used by factory workers for football matches.
The sale details offer potential purchasers the possibility of future development profits, saying “this is a rare opportunity to acquire a parcel of productive pasture land situated on the edge of Wellington…. Whilst at present the land is classified as agricultural due to its location it could well have some long term hope value and therefore could be of interest to investors.”
An online petition opposing the sale was started as soon as the sale details were published and now has hundreds of signatures. Earlier this year campaigners succeeded in having Fox’s Field registered by Taunton Deane as an Asset of Community Value. An ACV is land or property of importance to a local community which is subject to additional protection from development under the Localism Act 2011.
Wellington Mills CIC was formed earlier this year to encourage the sustainable and diverse regeneration of both the Tonedale and Tone Works factory sites. It has the backing and support of leaders at Taunton Deane council and from Rebecca Pow MP.