At the start of the new academic year in September the Dart Valley Learning Trust reiterated its decision not to extend the licence to occupy the Elmhirst Building at KEVICC held by Totnes Community Development Society. The Society was asked to leave the premises after fencing was erected around the site.
The Society had been performing daily site visits from March, over the period of lockdown due to COVID-19 and across the summer, to provide essential repairs, security checks and compliance checks, whilst awaiting a response from KEVICC to information requested by the school as part of the Society’s request to extend its community use of the site.
Totnes Community Development Society volunteers had been undertaking a process of renovation of the building since 2019 with over 50 local groups running or seeking to run activities from the building with the Society and a number of young Society members and volunteers under the name Golden Iris. Information about the building renovation, uses and upgrading of facilities has been handed over to the school.
Neither the Dart Valley Learning Trust nor KEVICC Governors have provided information about the schools intended use for the Elmhirst Building. The Society had requested an extension to the licence in order that it can continue to support young people, several of who were running group sessions through the Elmhirst building, the renovation of the building and the wider community education taking place at the site. Most recently the Society had offered to partner with the school in delivering social distanced training provision for young people following lockdown.
Directors of Totnes Community Development Society continue to request a meeting with the KEVICC Governors to establish the long-term plans for the building and to continue the work between the College and the Society. The Society has historically worked with KEVICC students during consultation for the Atmos Totnes development, and provision of annual work experience including the development of the 2017 Golden Iris Festival with year 10 students from the school.
The Golden Iris Festival developed into the plan for the Elmhirst Building by successive Golden Iris participants, and most recently the vision by KEVICC students and past-students for a dedicated space run by and for young people for creativity, mental health support and their positive contribution and leadership within the community. This work seems even more urgent now given the impact of COVID-19 and so the Society remain committed to finding ways of support young people and the wider community in its intentions to develop and run such a space.