MULTI-million pound plans for an upmarket visitor attraction near Wellington have been paused following the death of one of the landowners.

The £15 million House of Somerset project was planned to be built on a 10-acre site at the Foxmoor Business Park, off Junction 26 of the M5 motorway.

It aimed to pull in passing motorists from the M5 to sample Somerset foods, crafts, and attractions through a visitor interpretation centre, pannier hall, and artisan workshops.

A centrepiece of the development, which was expected to create about 200 jobs, was an iconic 150 feet high beacon with a viewing platform.

Director Nigel Muers-Raby, who is also the founder of Somerset Day, said this week: “We hope to revive it.

“The site fell by the wayside and we withdrew the application as it was no longer an option but we are still hoping we can find an alternative site and very much in the same area.

“The location was chosen very carefully for a variety of reasons, not least because of the vast volume of traffic along the motorway which passes that junction.

“Also, Wellington is a town that has a lot of independent businesses and that is attractive to us because we are keen to encourage any visitors who come to us to look further afield.

“We want to be seen to benefit the town and not take away from it.

“That has always been part of our aim, and we had enormous support from Wellington Town Council.”

It took four years and £4 million to develop the House of Somerset scheme to the point where a planning application was submitted in July, 2020.

But snagging by then-Somerset West and Taunton Council (SWT) planning officers delayed a decision on the project and also forced the team behind it to abandon the beacon idea.

Then, one of the owners of the proposed site died and the remaining family decided to go in a different direction, leading to the withdrawal of the planning application.

The site at Foxmoor has recently been developed for other business use, leaving Mr Muers-Raby to look elsewhere.

Mr Muers-Raby said: “We were very disappointed when the Foxmoor site fell through, particularly in view of all the work that had been done to get it to the stage it was at.

“We are keen to find an alternative location. I am aware that there are other potential sites around there. We are actively looking.

“It is alive and kicking, but there is nothing imminent because we do not have anything in place.”