Totnes Needs Balance to Flourish

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.

But there is a bigger picture to all of this that seems to get overlooked as we negotiate these waters. Totnes is many things, but at the core it is an economy and as such needs to be properly balanced in order to run right at the moment and run right in the future. We are in danger of overlooking this while in the midst of staying afloat over the cresting waves caused by SHDC plans.
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.

What’s your view on this. Comment Below…

  5 comments for “Totnes Needs Balance to Flourish

  1. Maia
    21st September 2018 at 7:29 pm

    Brilliant comments. I am disgusted by the quantities of buildings going up around Totnes. There are so many, so big, so tall and how about fill them up before considering any more, how about keep them in keeping with the nature and the town as it already is. Then there is the total lack of investing in the towns infrastructure which cannot cope with every thing that is going on. We have how many banks now? How big is the school? How much parking? How bad is the traffic and the pollution? Then there is the risk at all times that our carparks will be built on, that the market square will be under threat, etc etc etc. Why not totall protect the town now, especially any space that still exists. The market square. How many times are us Totnes people feeling under threat from developers just lining their own pockets, and providing what to the town exactly? Get the youth back in, the demographic should be a balanced one that is for sure.

  2. ChrisB
    21st September 2018 at 9:27 pm

    Totnes has been constantly under threat from unscrupulous developers, and some of us have been fighting this for decades now.. People don’t like cars much in the town but they are a necessary evil in our society and access for shopping, deliveries, collections and for people who live in the main street is vital.

    I wrote a blog about this as it has been a major concern of mine for ages now, the developers have been playing the long game but it’s good to see people beginning to see the gravity of the situation, but action is needed and soon.

    Regarding the demographic it’s true that since the closure of the college at Dartington there are a lot less youngsters about, which is sad, and it really is important that the town doesn’t get gentrified into a kind of quiet cul-de-sac (with no parking..)

    • Peter Shearn
      22nd September 2018 at 12:33 am

      Thanks for highlighting your blog post (which is excellent by the way) you really have thought it through.

      SHDC appear to see Totnesians as a pain in the ass. But surely the people of any district should hold the final say in what happens in the space they live in? Destroying the spirit of the place serves no-one except the developer. So why would the planners allow it?

      I have a few theories, but would be interested to hear what others think…

  3. Cindy Huxley
    23rd September 2018 at 10:04 am

    It is an ideal site for retirement flats, right in the centre of the town within a minute of the main street, not far from the Leatside Health Centre, the Rail Station and Bus Station.
    There is plenty of space for it to have its own garden and parking.

    I would point out to the author of the article that retirees bring a lot of income to an area and have time and leisure to spend money. All very well wanting younger age groups but if there are to be younger people then there has to be viable work for them first.

    I hope this development goes through smoothly.

  4. Mike Sealey
    25th September 2018 at 3:16 pm

    I believe the problem is not that it is a retirement development. It is the loss of car parking space. SHDC has slowly nibbled away at the meagre parking places and added to the population. It used to be that people from the surrounding villages came to Totnes to do their main grocery shopping. This hinterland has shrunk so much that it in now nearly quicker for someone in Higher Westonfields to go to Safeway in Paignton then to venture into town. Totnes is in danger of turning from a vibrant market town into a dormitory town full of charity shops with a market. I ran a retail business in Fore street for 30 years, so have seen many changes. None so bad as the challenges facing the Town Centre at the moment.

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