Totnes Town Council offer to buy Kevicc Lower Field

26 April 2022

Totnes Town Council’s ambition to purchase the former Lower School site from King Edward VI Community College for community use has taken another step forward. Following a detailed feasibility study at the end of last year, a formal offer to purchase the site was made on 13th April 2022.

The site has huge potential to contribute to the social, environmental, and economic wellbeing of Totnes

The offer of £2.5million for the site, which includes the red-brick Elmhirst Building and playing fields alongside Ashburton Road, could see the area be used as a centre for sports, recreation, the arts, learning, craft, enterprise and renewable energy. The Town Council’s plans also include improving pedestrian access to the River Dart for recreational activities, and enhancing connectivity with Totnes Railway Station and the town centre for pedestrians and cyclists. The entire site was listed as an Asset of Community Value by South Hams District Council in November 2021, which reflects its significance to the social life and wellbeing of local people.
Catherine Marlton, Clerk at Totnes Town Council said: “Our feasibility work identified that our proposed scheme is viable, giving Councillors the confidence to move ahead. While it’s important to note we’re still at an early stage of negotiation, we’re committed to working closely with the Community College and South Hams District Council to make this project happen for the Totnes community. 

“The site has huge potential to contribute to the social, environmental, and economic wellbeing of Totnes and to the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of local people, especially young people. At the same time, the Town Council fully acknowledges that the Community College has an urgent need to raise a significant amount of capital. As a result, we’ve proposed a “win-win” solution that will be in the best interest of the college and the town. That means offering to buy the site at a fair value that doesn’t disadvantage the college’s plans. We can afford to do this because we can take advantage of the public sector’s ability to apply for loan funding at favourable rates of interest over 50 years (known as prudential borrowing).”

Elmhirst Building – Image courtesy BBC

The Town Council acknowledges that the Lower School site and the college’s three other development sites are allocated for housing in the latest Joint Local Plan, the planning framework which determines how Totnes will look and feel over the next 20 years. The Town Council is fully supportive of the proposed provision of sustainable new housing and careful improvements to the town. It believes that it is possible to work with the college and South Hams District Council to meet the allocation within the overall area while still protecting and enhancing the Lower School site and Elmhirst Building for the community on a permanent basis.

With the offer now in place, the Town Council hopes to start formal negotiations with the college. If discussions are successful, the next stage will be securing funding and starting a community consultation to enable local people, groups and community partners to help shape the concept and plans for the future of the site.

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[…] reported in The Totnes Pulse in April, Totnes Town Council put forward a bid to bring the green space directly opposite the school […]

Mark El-Kadhi
Mark El-Kadhi
3 months ago

Hi, I really hope it’s the council rather than construction profiteers (‘developers’ is such a misnomer) whose only interest is throwing up ‘ticky tacky houses’ for cash.

So, “Yes Please” to the council buying over Kevicc Lower Field; I really hope the decision-makers Kevicc see fit to accept the offer from a community-focussed not purely profiteering source.

One consequence of this would be some flexibility and some sanity and humanity injected into making plans for our town.

For me an obvious much-needed improvement, and I’ve heard this said a lot, is that it’s nuts that Borough Park is so underused and so very unwelcoming as a place for families having picnics, town events, general fun.

This is primarily because, no question about it: the sense you have there is that you’re imposing!

“Oy! You’re standing on a %$#@@$% rugby pitch!” One of 2 actually that completely dominate the ‘park’.
“Get the &%@$ off!”

I like rugby, and I love Wales’rugby, and I love the community aspect of the club brings, so please hear me out before any argy bargy in the line-out!

Having 2 pitches critically damages the space as a nice park for the community. ‘Park’ means ‘a pretty place to relax and socialise’.

What we have is a sports field with dog poo and a few sweet wrappers.

Visually-aesthetically, having 2 rugby pitches there means there’s no chance for trees/ shrubs or anything. Just a bland … sports field.

The ground is unsurprisingly the most unappealing for your bum: studded mud. I’ve literally never seen anyone sit and have a picnic in nearly 8 years, which is nuts, and something of a crime really.

So, surely a space can be found in the KEVICC Lower Field site for at least one of the rugby pitches to shift to, and ‘Borough Sports Field’ to become ‘Borough Park’, with space given back to the townsfolk as a proper lovely place to relax in, make beautiful, have fun in, picnic etc.

If it was only one pitch that shifted, I’m not sure which to suggest it should be – that’d need a survey with neighbour involvement primarily I guess.

But surely this way, everyone’s happier!

The general public can enjoy a beautiful park with comfy grass and shrubs etc, a cafe would be nice, and feel Welcome; not a sense of “Oy! Get off the pitch you %$#&! It’s not a %$##€£ Park!”

And rugby players can have a rugby pitch that’s actually a rugby pitch, (perhaps with a not too ugly liitle barrier / marker around the one remaining), not trying to double as sthg else with resulting detritus to share the space with.
(Dog business issues caused by careless owners obviously needs improving and matters regardlless of other points, but that’s another story).

Thank you