Following a year of pursuing our legal right in relation to the former Dairy Crest site in Totnes, we discovered on Friday 12th March that the site had been sold, by its new owner Saputo Dairy UK Ltd, to Fastglobe Mastics, an Essex-based company, a deal brokered by Totnes-based ‘land agent’ Mr Patrick Gillies, of Bruce Gillies Ltd.

The Atmos Totnes plans for the site were brought forward through a Community Right to Build Order process, a right given to communities through the 2011 Localism Act and were overwhelmingly voted for by the people of Totnes in a historic referendum in November 2016. The Atmos Totnes development is now in the adopted Plymouth and South West Devon Joint Local Plan 2014-2034.

The plans, created by Totnes Community Development Society (TCDS) following extensive community consultation, will deliver 99 homes of which 62 are truly affordable houses linked only to the Totnes community, and 37 are ring-fenced homes for older people. It also features workspace for local businesses to provide at least 160 jobs, a health and wellbeing centre, and much-needed dedicated space for our young people.

It will also feature a new music, arts and community venue, for which TCDS have been awarded a £2.5 million grant by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The design represents a key part of the flood defence for the whole town and would provide training opportunities through the build, management and maintenance of the site.

The proposal will see the entire site in community ownership and the revenues it generates reinvested in community initiatives. TCDS held an option agreement for the site, signed in 2014, and in good faith have spent £800,000 on pre-feasibility work on this complicated ex-brownfield site, securing funding from philanthropists, as well as Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, Community Housing Fund, Charity Bank, Heritage Lottery Fund, Homes England, Venturesome, Heritage Lottery Fund, CAF Venturesome and others.

TCDS are continuing to pursue their legal rights in relation to the site, in order to bring the site back into community ownership. A campaign group Totnes4Atmos has recently formed and will be holding a series of online public meetings.