Almost 300 people turned out to take part in a Consultation Day at Tonedale Mill organised by Wellington Mills community interest company. “It was so busy that half an hour after the doors opened we were having to ask people to wait a few minutes to let others leave before they went in,” said co-organiser Ben Fox.
People were crowding to see a series of large-scale display boards prepared by the Thread architectural practice, based at West Buckland, showing a range of possible future uses for the disused factory buildings. Visitors were encourage to write their own ideas on Post-It notes stuck to the displays and also shade in cutaway drawings indicating degrees of priority as between residential, workshop/studio and office space.
“We’re incredibly grateful to Reminiscence Learning who loaned us the former Fox Bros boardroom to use for the displays,” said Ben. Thread’s work was funded by grants to the CIC from the Architectural Heritage Fund and the Somerset Community Fund.
Although it will take several weeks to evaluate the huge number of contributions made by visitors to the Consultation Day, a spokesman for the CIC said that for local residents of Millstream Gardens and Weavers Reach it was very clear that any future regeneration of the 11-acre factory site had to address the already severe parking problems in the area.
Representatives from Historic England (currently funding some urgent preventative work on several Listed buildings at Tonedale), Taunton Deane council and Wellington town council were also at the Consultation Day, as well as Lib Dem parliamentary candidate Gideon Amos.
“I’ve seen the tremendous interest shown by the people of Wellington in the Consultation Day,” commented Cllr John Williams, leader of TDBC, who spent an hour at the exhibition. “This is an incredible initiative and the CIC is well worthy of support.
“As a council we look forward to working with them in the future to progress the regeneration of this incredible old woollen mill and preserved the buildings for future generations. “
People who couldn’t attend the Consultation Day will be able to share their comments and ideas, as well as view the display presentations at www.wellingtonmills.org