With the deadline for public comments 12 August 5pm, Totnes market traders and local residents were angry and many shocked today to discuss the ‘Plymouth and South West Devon Local Plan’ which has Market Square, central Totnes car-parks, Leechwell Gardens and even the newly completed Grove School grounds earmarked for ‘redevelopment’.
In conversations with the vast majority of traders present in Market Square today, Friday 5th August, and with many members of the public, not a single person had anything at all good to say about the unanimously agreed “Heart of Totnes” being undemocratically tampered with.
Unless the plans are knocked back, the blue areas shown on the map – which include Market Square and the area behind the Civic Hall, car parks, Leechwell Gardens and parts of Grove School grounds – will be in line for so-called ‘development’ for reasons many we spoke to today see as “all about making money”.
This is not to mention the sad fate of Great Court Farm, KEVICC’s playing fields, and other areas marked for new-build in the wider Totnes map of the Local Plan. Scroll down here:
Not Simply the Bad Result that’s Wrong, but the Process
As a matter of course in the current system, the public who live and work in an area, Totnes say, and who naturally have the best sense of what is needed most and where through daily lives more than anyone, are kept right out of the planning for profitable construction works until the plans are already drawn up.
In the case of the ‘Local Plan’, as far as the public are informed – which is not much – the specific plans we know of currently in existence for the marked areas are 70 houses to be built – in the centre of an already congested small market town! This screams “MONEY!”. With no breathing space permitted for sense or democratic involvement.
What the Local Plan aims to ensure is that the earmarked areas (brown for housing, blue for mixed housing and business) are ‘approved and ready to go’ when suitable construction deals – whether for housing or business – are worked out in back room meetings with so-called ‘developers’ who eye a big profit.
We asked traders today what kind of democracy they thought this process was: responses contained a good portion of colourful language; “croneyism” and “corrupt system” were some of the repeatable words heard in response.
CONsultation on ‘re-developing’ the “Heart of Totnes” Ends on August 12th
Besides the after-the-fact approach of the system, the timing of the CONsultation with the public came in for criticism too, with one trader saying: “they know everyone’s busy and doesn’t see each other like normal during the summer holidays”.
Comments can be made via this link until August the 12th at 5pm:
(If you would like to share your feelings for inclusion in a possible future report pls forward a copy of your email to firstname.lastname@example.org)
“It’s in Our hands” – resident in Market Square today
The community group Don’t Bury Dartington Under Concrete unified locals’ concerns and successfully knocked back hugely unpopular plans, which the council was trying very hard and at great public expense to force through. This must surely give confidence and hope to all those angry about – 100% of those spoken with today – the Local Plan that has the heart of Totnes earmarked for unwanted changes.
Uniting the community in a determined effort was the key to winning a long battle in Dartington over Brimhay, as reported in another article here, and is surely the key too in Totnes if local people are to achieve the evidentially undivided desire to stop the destruction of the “Heart and Soul” of the town. Moreover, it will require great unity indeed to challenge the undemocratic, if not blatantly rigged, system that comes up with and tries to enforce these money-spinning schemes that no one we have come across who lives or works here wants for the town we love.