PUBLISHED: 16:00 13 June 2019
Cox’s Mill at the moment. Picture: B2 Architect
A hydro-electric power system and public space could replace a derelict hotel which has been closed for around eight years.
The future of Cox’s Mill, in Cheddar Gorge, has been a hot topic on people’s lips for several years and gorge owner, Longleat, has revealed what it hopes to do with the space when the building is demolished.
The former hotel site has been left to deteriorate over time with vandals breaking into the ‘structurally unsound’ building.
Simon Townsend, Cheddar Gorge and Caves’ operations manager, said the site is ‘beyond economical repair’ and demolition was the only answer.
He told a busy public meeting at Fairlands Middle School, in Cheddar, on Monday it hoped to create something the whole community will benefit from.
He said: “It is a bit of an eyesore and it is becoming unsafe. We want to take it down and make it a nicer space for the village and the community.
“We don’t want it to become so unsafe it is causing a hazard to anyone and we want to be able to take it down in a way which is easier for the community.
“We hope the changes will enhance the lower gorge, the views and the area around Cox’s Cave and the Queen’s Row shops and make it a much nicer space for our visitors and local people.”
B2 director Pat Benjamin talked through the plans, which are broken down into three phases.
Phase one, which B2 Architects hopes to submit planning permission for by the end of the month to begin work in the autumn, will see the creation of a waterfall and square after the demolition of the hotel.
Longleat will then look to restore a 1958 water turbine from the hotel’s basement and, during the second phase, install an Archimedes’ screw.
Mr Benjamin said: “Phase two, we think, is a really exciting next step, it is our aspiration as a team to improve the traffic in the gorge.
“We would like to engage with the Highway Authority to look at traffic calming measures and extend the plaza across the road to improve access to Cox’s Cave.
“We hope the site will then generate hydro-electricity but also become a real attraction for tourists, something really interesting.”
In phase three, Longleat would like to build a visitors’ building and discussed a possible café overlooking the lake.
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