16th March 2021
After all the fanfare and work from Totnes Community Development Society‘s ATMOS project for the nationally groundbreaking project of a community build, today the land is officially owned by FastGlobe (Mastics) Ltd on Land Registry documents after being sold by Saputo (formally Dairy Crest) for £1.3 million back in January.
This apparently puts the Atmos project, which involved Dairy Crest allowing the community to own and develop the land for work spaces, leisure space and affordable housing, out of action. The blow is especially hard as it could bring to an end the exciting arts centre in the Brunel Building which had already secured £2.5 million of lottery funding for developing.
The statement on TCDS website reads: ”
“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.
TCDS are continuing to pursue their legal rights in relation to the site
South Hams District Council had agreed the preliminary plans for the site and it was officially designated as possibly the UKs first “Community Right To Build” project and it is part of the Joint Local Plan. With this planning agreement already in place, it is unclear what new plans are being made, if the process of selling to FastGlobe is legal or if SHDC will allow FastGlobe to change the remit already agreed upon.
Fastglobe have been in control of the site since January last year when they first leased the site at the same time that the lottery funding was made. The new deal has been brokered by Patrick Gillies of Bruce Gillies Ltd between FastGlobe and Saputo. Mr Gillies was approached by The Pulse for comment and answered through Fastglobe’s PR company Kor Communications:
“We can confirm that the sale of the former Dairy Crest site in Totnes to Fastglobe (Mastics) Ltd completed on January 15th 2021.
The sale of the site by Saputo UK followed the termination of the lease to Totnes Community Development Society in November 2019, more than 12 years after Totnes residents first initiated their community ownership project which has struggled to progress.
Since Fastglobe’s acquisition of the site, essential health and safety works have been carried out to prevent further accidents and fatalities on the derelict site. Work to prevent further deterioration of the buildings has also been undertaken.
Fastglobe’s proposals for the redevelopment of the site are being progressed and the company looks forward to sharing them with the community in the near future.”
The statement unexpectedly makes a reference to the tragic incident of Ethan Ross Bonnar who was filming himself exploring the site and fell to his death from the roof of a derelict building last July.
Rob Hopkins is a director of T C D S has provided the following statement:
“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 owner Saputo Dairy UK Ltd, to Fastglobe Mastics, an Essex-based company, a deal brokered by local ‘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 2012 Localism Act and were overwhelming 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 and arts venue, for which TCDS have been awarded a £2.5 million grant by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The design also 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 would 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.”
Ruth Ben-Tovim who was involved in the project from an early stage, designed and delivered the initial creative consultation for Atmos said:
“Atmos Totnes is an incredible opportunity for a ground breaking community led and community owned development scheme. Over 5000 people have endorsed it and have been expecting this to go ahead benefiting the whole community now and in the future. It was ready to go. The community of Totnes have been cheated, let down and overlooked by the sale of this site for a few peoples self interest, greed and profit. Fastglobe and Patrick Gillies do not represent the wishes of the town for the site. We voted for that in a referendum. Join the Atmos for Totnes campaign and let’s get this site back.”
Details of Totnes Totnes4Atmos meetings will be related in the Events Pages on this site.
Do you have any views on this? Comment below…
|Ged||the site is in a pitiful state of neglect,
Is sad but Atmos have been unable to progress in any meaningful way and have arguably held back development of this brownfield site while developers continue to build houses on green fields!
|Dinah||Saputo have reneged on Dairy Crest’s promise to leave a legacy to the town. We’ve been done over and it feels rotten|
|Zoe||I have questions for TCDS.
Why did Saputo terminate its lease in November 2019?
What did TCDS do about it?
What is going to happen to the Brunel building and the £2.5 million of Lottery cash?
How can TCDS expect people to give them more money to fight this when it seems that , if the lease was terminated legally for proper reasons, Saputo had a right to dispose of the site as it wished. If this is not the case, and Saputo has reneged on a legal deal, then let us know.
It is a sad end to a noble vision but hard headed business people will always win over community activists. Why it has taken so long is another question!
Ged, in a previous comment, has a point.
What now for the school playing field and the lower school building? More housing?