The Totnes Community Development Society who have secured planning and £2.5 million funding for the Brunel Building renovation have released a statement regarding the land deal on the old Dairy Crest site as follows:
Totnes Community Development Society Directors would like to update the community on the situation regarding the purchase of the land from Saputo UK (formerly Dairy Crest). The Society has been informed that another organisation, FastGlobe (Mastics) Ltd, may be seeking to buy the former Dairy Crest site. At this stage the Society understand that the land has not been sold and that Fastglobe (Mastics) Ltd have taken a lease from Saputo UK for the land and that the Society no longer have access to the site. The Society is unaware of the intentions of Fastglobe (Mastics) Ltd and is seeking confirmation.
The Society has worked with Dairy Crest Ltd (now Saputo UK) for the last 5 years, following the signing of legal agreements in 2014. McCarthy and Stone’s prolonged departure from the site was only concluded a few months ago and it has been challenging to the timeline for the project as a result. However, despite this, the Society has continued its work with the statutory agencies completing pre-construction and design work, and raising investment for Atmos Totnes to commence work on site in the next few months. This work has been completed in good faith, and with the knowledge of Saputo UK, in the reliance that Saputo UK are contracted to co-operate with the Society in respect of the development of the site. In the last month we had established a value for the site and legal agreements with Saputo UK for the sale of the site, ahead of the planned commencement of works.
In the last six months the Society have secured listed building consent for the Brunel Building, and most recently £2.5millon in grant investment into the first phase of Atmos Totnes, alongside the in-principle funding for the later three phases. In the last few weeks we have also received confirmation that we have been granted a European Protected Species Licence and the first Flood Risk Activity Permit from the Environment Agency, both, again relating to commencement of Atmos Totnes. We are currently awaiting determination of the first set of Reserved Matters from South Ham District Council which will allow the start of work on site.
At this stage Totnes Community Development Society is continuing to pursue its legal interest in the site. We will continue to press Saputo UK to exchange and complete on the agreed contract for sale. In the meantime, we are also working to ensure that Saputo UK has all the information needed to understand what is required to manage the site and the liabilities that exist in relation to the site.
The Directors of the Society remain fully committed to the work of the Society and in securing the former Dairy Crest site into community ownership. As part of this work we are hugely looking forward to opening the community share issue in the next few weeks which many people are anticipating in the community and beyond. This will be a chance to invest in the work of the Society from £1 – £100,000 and the large-scale change that this community has asked to make, and identified as needed, in regards to development of affordable homes and spaces, employment and training for local people.
Totnes Pulse have contacted TCDS for clarification on ownership of the Brunel Building and access to the space. TCDS have responded with:
“Totnes Community Development Society and Dairy Crest (now Saputo UK) did both sign legal agreements in 2014 to enable TCDS to purchase the land and the two parties have subsequently established the contract for sale of the site, these documents are ready [to] use. As well as pursuing the legal interest TCDS has in the site, we are also seeking to understand from FastGlobe what their intention is for the land.
At this point we do not have access to any part of Atmos Totnes, including the Brunel Building. A priority for us is to ensure that the current land owners and occupiers understand the liabilities attached to the site, and what is required to manage it appropriately therefore.
The £2.5M grant funding has been secured by Totnes Community Development Society from Heritage Lottery Fund for the Brunel Building scheme within Atmos Totnes, and delivered through the training scheme that TCDS has been piloting at the Elmhirst Building and the Mansion.”