Somerset

Mulberry founder's Kilver Court welcomed in Shepton Mallet

Kilver Court
Image caption Kilver Court's gardens are based on George Whiteleg's Chelsea gold medal winning design

A £10m regeneration scheme in Shepton Mallet has been welcomed by the town's chamber of commerce.

Businessman Roger Saul, who founded fashion brand Mulberry 40 years ago, is opening a "discount designer shopping centre" on his Kilver Court site.

Chamber spokesman Ian Jarmaine said he welcomed any business that "invests in Shepton Mallet".

Those behind the development say it could "create hundreds of jobs and bring millions into the local economy."

The former textile mills, where Babycham was once made, have been restored and the first stage of the development - the designer shopping outlet - will open on 23 July.

"This is a new concept for the UK," said Mr Saul, who bought the Kilver Court site in 1996.

"No-one has yet merged the idea of a discount designer brand village with other lifestyle elements and gardens in a rural location.

"All this with strong sustainable credentials."

The great house at Kilver Court is currently home to a farm shop, butcher and cafe, and there are also offices and conference facilities on the site.

'Vibrant' atmosphere

"The chamber of commerce looks forward to Kilver Court and the Kilver Street area becoming a vibrant part of the town's economy again," Mr Jarmaine added.

"With the prospect of an increase in local employment and more visitors to Shepton Mallet, we wish Roger Saul every success in this venture."

The history of Kilver Court goes back to at least the 1500s and it was once the site of the biggest woollen mill in the area.

Mr Saul said he was "committed to making the development as sustainable as possible" and craftspeople have been restoring the historic buildings on the site.

"The creative re-use of existing structures and buildings, rather than relying on new build, is an important element of sustainability," he added.

"This is a key factor at Kilver Court."

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