20th May 2022
As reported in The Totnes Pulse in April, Totnes Town Council put forward a bid to bring the green space directly opposite the school entrance, known as Lower Field, in to ownership of the council on behalf of the people of Totnes.
The council plan to use the space for a public park and have the Elmhirst Building renovated enabling its use for events, meetings, offices and youth orientated facilities. The area could also be used for charged parking spaces, with a Park & Ride option via Bob The Bus. This would actively generate income over future years making the space a financial asset to the town. Parking could also facilitate access to the landing point on the River Dart that has become increasingly popular but has been causing issues for the residents in Swallowfields due to use of their road for access to the river from this area.
The alternative to the council offer is a development of up to 130 houses as outlined in the Kevicc Consultation (Linked Here). The development already has a green light to proceed as it is included in the Joint Local Plan even though the town of Totnes has considerably more new housing developments than is required under the Governments’ “Fixing Our Broken Housing Market”. It has been suggested that if there must be housing to raise further funds for the school, The Redworth Site would be more suitable as a cleaner air solution.
The proposed development would be on the green field space on Ashburton Road that is already one of the most polluted spaces in the South Hams, marked as an Air Quality Management Area – (AQMA). Any housing will have a significant impact on increasing the pollution further which would adversely affect householders and pupils spending their days in Kevicc.
I think that our green spaces are vital
The Town council successfully implemented the space as an Asset Of Community Value, which allowed for their proposal to be considered, however this A.C.V, ran out on May 5. Totnes Pulse asked if the council proposal was being seriously considered by Kevicc at the Annual Town Council meeting in Civic Hall on the 18th May. Newly elected Mayor, Emily Price who was chairing the meeting advised that little or no response had been given from Kevicc to the Council and it appears that the Totnes Town Council are unable to comment in detail because their offer to purchase the land, makes any information they provide commercially sensitive. Therefore if this project is to get recognition, it is up to the people of Totnes to make their voices heard.
Now that the A.C.V. has lapsed, Kevicc are likely to be pushing forward with their proposal the re-develop the area and once commercial contracts are signed up, the space will be almost impossible to retrieve from the bulldozers.
Speaking to the Pulse she said “I’m a local resident, parent, business owner and KEVICC alumni, who feels strongly about protecting my hometown as a truly special place to live, work, and visit. I want my children to grow up with the same sense of pride in their home and its surrounding countryside as I did, and I think that our green spaces are vital to that.”
She added, “The lower field at KEVICC is an important asset for our community, and especially for our younger generations, and the potential loss of it to housing development would be a great shame when that housing can be built elsewhere (and without restricting KEVICC from raising the funds it needs). Imagine what KEVICC could be like if it was redeveloped and it had a recreation and arts centre with river access and sports facilities directly opposite!” Alice continues, “I absolutely understand the need for affordable housing in Totnes, and am not a ‘nimby’ in regards to development, but I do believe that this can be achieved in a manner that is sensitive to the fabric of Totnes as an historic and rural town.”
The petition is intended to be submitted to Devon County Council next Thursday (26th May) at their Annual General Meeting in Exeter.
The Totnes Pulse will be investigating the process over the next few days so are you an interested party, a trustee of Dart Valley Learning Trust, or a governor at Kevicc? If so please get in contact – firstname.lastname@example.org
The online petition, is here: https://chng.it/Dvqgt4RwZ2