Parrett Works


Martock Parrett Works Project

Bringing economic growth to the local area by regenerating a historic industrial site

The Project

Parrett Works, in the parish of Martock, is considered to be "the outstanding industrial monument in this parish, and arguably in the county" (Batsford, 1980). It is reputed to be one of the oldest mechanised working sites and one of the first water-powered industrial complexes in the country. Doomsday shows it to be thriving.

The Parrett Works Project covered the 19th century Rope Walk, Wheel House and other buildings, at the southern end of Parrett Works, all of which are Grade II listed.

The Rope Walk building is in a poor state and deteriorating, the Wheel House is nothing more than a walled shell and the other buildings have sustained fire damage and need to be rebuilt. To the south of the site is a field of about one hectare.

Our aim was to provide employment, apprenticeship and training opportunities for local people by:

  • restoring the buildings and site to light industrial use
  • attracting new businesses and hence helping to improve local economic growth
  • maximising on the use of sustainable energy

thereby preserving the industrial heritage at Parrett Works.

In the longer term we wanted to build this project into a strategy for the preservation and sustainment of the whole Parrett Works site, so as to:

  • secure its heritage and economic future
  • retain its local character and sense of place.

The Study

The Heritage Lottery Fund, Market Town Investment Group and Parish Council funded an initial viability study project into the potential of the Rope Walk and Wheelhouse buildings on the Parrett Works site for development into light industrial and business use.

The viability study is now complete and has provided the following information: -

• Market Research and Viability – It was confirmed that the project should focus on B2 (general industrial) provision at a rental rate of between £3 and £6 per sq. ft.

• Design – a design was created and agreed for the Rope Walk building to be developed into 7 units with toilet and small communal area and for the wheelhouse to become a café / retail food outlet.

• Costs for conversion – to convert both the Rope Walk and Wheelhouse - £2,827,680 including all fees and contingency, Ropewalk only £2,261,122.

• VAT – confirmation that if VAT is to be claimed back on the build costs then VAT will need to be added to all lettings.

• Financial and Sensitivity Modelling – a model has been created based on the information provided. It shows the site has the potential to be financially viable depending upon certain conditions, but that the initial level of capital investment required is currently prohibitive.

• Governance – confirmation that the most appropriate model to develop the project is a not for profit organisation such as a Community Interest Company, a Community Land Trust or a Charitable Trust. The model will be dependent upon other factors including what investment needs to be raised. No organisation has been established to date.

• Access – pre-application advice from Somerset County Council has indicated that they would not support a planning application citing heavier use of the existing access and poor, restricted visibility.

The Heritage Lottery Fund previously expressed an interest in funding the project but changes to their investment programme mean that any award is unlikely to exceed £1million.

The financial and sensitivity modelling has also confirmed that the project could not support significant loan finance and other capital investment on the scale required has not been identified. In addition, the site remains in private ownership and whilst this is the case it cannot be considered for any grant support.

At the outset of the project the Parish Council confirmed that they would not be inclined to take the project past the initial viability stage. Without an individual or a not for profit organisation to drive the project forward it was agreed that it will now be mothballed with the council maintaining secure storage of all relevant documents, plans and materials should anyone wish to develop it in the future.

For more information about this project, please download the Brochure and key reports below.


Martock Parrett Works Project brochure

Martock Parrett Works history & interpretation

Project viability report

Assessment of feasibility and sustainability