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Somerset West and Taunton Council says it will continue working to bring about the restoration of Wellington’s heritage and cultural assets despite being unsuccessful in a bid for Government funding. The council asked for nearly £20million from the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government’s Levelling Up Fund to help realise “A Vision for Tonedale”.
The Liberal Democrat-controlled council says the funds would have provided an opportunity for SWT working in partnership with stakeholders and the community, to transform and sustainably regenerate the nationally significant heritage site at Toneworks, in Milverton Road, and enhance associated land for community use.
Cllr Mike Rigby, Executive Member for Assets, said: “SWT is disappointed to hear that our “Vision for Tonedale” Levelling Up bid was unsuccessful. The team and a significant group of community, heritage and regional stakeholders invested a great deal of time and effort in putting together a really strong bid.
“We will continue to work with all parties to find a way forward for this nationally significant site in order to save and restore it for the future of the town and the residents of Somerset.”
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The bid was supported by Rebecca Pow, Conservative MP for Taunton Deane, who added: "It is obviously disappointing that our application to the Levelling Up Fund for Tonedale was unsuccessful this time. This ambitious plan for Tonedale would restore and save a nationally important heritage site and a much-loved historic landmark.
“I know that the Government is fully committed to levelling up all parts of the country including the South West . There will be a further round of funding and I will continue to work on making the case in order to secure this much needed investment in Tonedale.”
The Council purchased the Toneworks site which is home to a complex of Grade II-star listed buildings using a grant from Historic England. It secured further grant funding of £348,420 in January 2021 from the first round of the Heritage Stimulus Fund, administered by Historic England as part of the government’s Culture Recovery Fund, which enabled the site which was part of the town's textile industry to be fully decontaminated, allowing for structural repairs to be carried out safely.
A second grant of £400,000 from the Heritage Stimulus Fund in October 2021 was used to employ specialist conservation contractors, engineers, ecologists and joiners to undertake structural repairs, including vital roof repairs and the stabilisation of the wall bounding the river.
A recent grant of £185,596 from Historic England will go towards Phase 3 of works which will see one of the most complex parts of the site made structurally stable opening up safe access routes to a number of different parts of the site.
The Government announced on Thursday that more than 100 projects across the UK would share £2.1 billion in the second round of its Levelling Up Fund. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak denied the latest funding favoured the South over the North, arguing that per head of population the North had done better.
In Somerset, successful projects included the Seahorse Centre, in Minehead, which will be revamped under a project which received £19.7 million of funding. Sedgemoor District Council will use the Stephenson Road building as an annexe for a new health and social care staff academy training centre in Bridgwater.
The centre itself will be housed in the former Bridgwater Hospital, in Salmon Parade, which has been unused since a new community hospital was built in 2014.
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