People campaigning in Wellington to protect a popular open space from possible future development are delighted that they have successfully had Fox’s Field officially designated as an Asset of Community Value under the 2011 Localism Act.
“It’s fantastic that so many local people were galvanized into action,” said Anita Roy,of Wellington Mills community interest company – which led the ACV application process as the bid had to come from a legally established group not an individual resident. “Taunton Deane council acted really swiftly, once we got the papers in, and they have been very helpful throughout.”
Local residents who use the field for walking, running and exercising dogs began an online petition – that now has over 500 signatures – when they realised that it was being offered for sale for the first time in almost 20 years.
Gina Deacon, who started the petition, said: “When Tonedale Mill is re-developed, there will still be a need, to enjoy a safer, environmentally good access path into Wellington. The main road is busy with heavy traffic, not an enjoyable healthy walk into town.
“This field offers a footpath, safe away from that noise; it is very much a local beauty spot. To sell it for development, would lose all it currently offers, not just for now, but the future.
“For me personally as a disabled person, it allows me somewhere where I can walk with my dog freely. I feel safe in Fox’s Field, relaxed enjoy the peace, the birds, the fresh air. It is an oasis of calm, which I believe many people enjoy.”
The campaigners at Tonedale now have about a month with the option to trigger a six-month “protected window” for fund-raising and making a bid to the owner, during which time the land cannot be sold to anyone else.
Estate agents Greenslade Taylor Hunt were asking for offers of around £80,000 for the eight acre-field which is being sold by the company that owned Fox Bros factory when it first closed 25 years ago. It has since sold the mill buildings to other developers but retained the two fields – which were once used by factory workers for football matches.
The GTH sale details offered potential purchasers the possibility of future 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 ACV is land or property of importance to a local community which is subject to additional protection from development under the Localism Act 2011. In some circumstances ACV registration can trigger a community Right to Bid.
Wellington Mills CIC is a community group 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 Historic England.