They say its rather difficult to maintain your equilibrium on the deck of a rolling ship.
That is the sentiment that comes to mind when I think of Totnes, a ship constantly caught in the waves generated by the South Hams District Council.
As long as I’ve lived here, the town has been having to fight back or learn to live with development plans that appear virtually out of the blue from the good folks at SHDC.
We’re currently being held in suspense over the future of our parking lots. The SHDC had decided to keep the matter private by inappropriately manipulating the regulations that allow for meetings to be held in private. And now more recently we stand by while plans are unveiled for a 42-unit housing unit for retirees on the grounds of the much missed Co-op supermarket. The fight that is shaping over this will be particularly critical given the need for parking in order to effectively feed the high street retail sector.
There is a track record of municipalities around the UK that haven’t been paying attention to that balance and are today suffering with enfeebled high streets, lower revenues and an overall diminishment in the quality of life.
The balance Totnes needs to maintain, centres around having the right demographics. There is nothing wrong with a certain percentage of retirees, but if that percentage starts to dominate, you have problems. You need the 28- to 55 –year-olds in abundance in order to sustain the high street and give the village a certain vitality and robustness it might otherwise lack.
Someone once said if you’re hammer all the world’s problems are nail.
Well, if you’re a developer such as Churchill Retirement Living – the one looking to develop the old Co Op – all the world’s problems can be dealt with by retirement homes. At the moment there is no shortage of those around our Village. But if we keep going in that direction in a way that chokes off parking spaces and lowers the market for the retail and entertainment sector, we are going to shoot ourselves in the foot. Big time
We only need to look at Paignton to see what happens when a town goes out of balance.
The SHDC doesn’t care a jot about us having that balance so we need to carry on in the face of these mounting waves to see that Totnes isn’t ruined for future generations.