THE owner of Tonedale Mill has insisted he can turn the site around after Somerset Council issued a fresh threat to intervene to carry out repairs in default. 

Amar Mehli, the boss of Mancraft LTD, which has faced repeated orders to carry out urgent repairs from the local authority, has said he is ready to “bring the site back to life” if the council would use some “common sense.” 

It comes after a Somerset Council official warned that if Mancraft failed to abide by a February notice to repair a hole in the roof of one of the buildings, they would step in to undertake the works and pass on the bill. 

But speaking to the Wellington Weekly Mr Mehli hit out at the council but claims he remains optimistic the abandoned mill could soon become a mixed use development. He said: “We were trying to get everything up and running but the pandemic knocked it back, by the time we were ready again the council stepped in over phosphates. But the phosphate regulation was introduced in 2017, it doesn’t apply to this site. 

“We now have everything in place, contractors are booked and the ecology report is completed. I believe in this project that’s why I acquired it.” 

Mr Mehli also claimed he had been forced to shell out hundreds of thousands of pounds in what he characterised as ‘silly disputes’ with the council. He said: “I have spent over £300,000 on legal frees to prove I have planning. It is all coming out of my pocket, it isn’t borrowed. 

“We have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds arguing over silly things but we just want to move forward.” 

Mr Mehli expressed optimism that phase one of the project, which he said would cost £21 million and create 35 homes and 135 flats, could begin after the latest round of urgent works were completed. However, he did say some parts of the site would be better served by demolition than renovation. He said: “I am optimistic I can make it work, we just have to handle certain initial works. We have funding available, it is a viable proposition. But block D needs to be demolished and a couple of other buildings.” 

While he maintained the project was a “labour of love” Mr Mehli said when the council offered to buy the site from him last year, he agreed to do so for £4 million - an offer which was refused.

He said that price would only represent the recovery of his money, and claimed to have spent millions of pounds on the mill. He said:“It is such a great project. It is a labour of love to bring these beautiful listed buildings back into use. But you have to be realistic. Some buildings have to go, block B is just a pile of rubble. 

“I want to work hand in hand with the council, we want to get back on site and agree a phasing plan.” 

Somerset Council has been approached for further comment.