Who benefits from Churchill Retirement Homes?

 10th September 2019

As a Totnes Town Councillor I find the over development of Totnes troubling.

Churchill Retirement have recently bought the Brutus Building; otherwise known as the old Co-op or Budgens site. I have been told by numerous sources that Churchill out-bid South Hams by a million pounds. They intend turning the site into a three story retirement apartment complex with a private garden and parking that have already been  advertised nationally.

The impact this will have on our town in terms of infrastructure, parking, foot-fall and image would be detrimental in my view. Our town is already struggling with basic services, as well as an ageing local population, lack of parking, affordable housing and numerous other problems.

Churchill responded to our concerns at the quote-unquote “consultation” by saying our problems were national ones and resorted to their own statistics, always towing the company line. Some of these issues we are concerned about, do reflect nationally but this is not a national issue, this is a local issue and it became so when they decided to build 40 plus apartments in our town centre.

Churchill’s bottom line is to create revenue with no societal obligations or care for our town. After speaking to many residents both in person and online as well as fellow town and district councillors, I have not met anyone who wants or thinks this is a good idea. One lady I spoke with, aged 94, said that if they went ahead with this development it would “rip the heart out of Totnes.” I found this surprising and powerful. I would have thought that out of the numerous older people I had spoken to, they would be in support of this development as it is meant to target their demographic but the real clientelle sought by Churchill, is not the local ageing population, but big money downsizing retirees from up country.

Do you agree or disagree with Kyle? Please add your thoughts below. Comment is free.

  12 comments for “Who benefits from Churchill Retirement Homes?

  1. Jenny
    11th September 2019 at 8:36 am

    Spot on Kyle.
    At the least if Churchill push this through, is there still a pot of money that developers must plough back into the town? I heard this was a ‘thing’, a percentage developers legally had to invest intown improvements….. ?

    • Simon Harrington
      11th September 2019 at 4:28 pm

      The ‘thing’ you refer to Jenny is Section 106 agreements where developers ‘commit’ to making a contribution to local infrastructure – schools, roads, transport, facilities etc. The agreements are made between the developer and the Planning Authority (SHDC). So far, so good. Problem is that a combination of developer unwillingness to pay out and a lack of enforcement by local authorities means that little or no money actually reaches the community. Witness the sign at Baltic Wharf which proudly announces that Bloor Homes have committed “over £285.000” to the local community. The only people to have benefitted from this largesse so far are consultants and report writers.

    • Robert.
      11th September 2019 at 5:49 pm

      They’re called “Section 106 Contributions” and they’re for “site specific mitigation of the impact of development” – in other words they are meant to pay for works that cancel out the local harm caused by any development.

    • 24th September 2019 at 10:23 am

      Thank you Jenny, Yes the pot of funding is called section 106.

  2. John
    11th September 2019 at 5:37 pm

    Yes I agree. Churchill are taking away a major town centre retail development and car park of 50 bays and giving nothing back. The majority population of our town centre is elderly, is retired. The town is full of retirement developments, estates, courts and homes. There is no need here for yet more homes for retired people. Also in recent years we have built far more new dwellings than our required quota. The Baltic Wharf housing estate has been bought predominantly by incomers down sizing (I quote their sales office). There is a new 5 storey apartment block on the riverside for retired people and a new care home to be built next door. Totnes only thrives because of its special retail character. However our retail opportunities are very limited, with no space for expansion, so we cannot afford to loose any retail to housing or change of use. We don’t have enough parking to support even those shoppers and tourist who want to come here now, let alone in future, so we cannot afford to loose any more parking bays to developers.

  3. Maia Sutherland
    12th September 2019 at 5:23 pm

    I am utterly confounded by the mount of building in Totnes, everywhere there are new builds going up, there is no infrastructure upgrades to cope. It is a mess. No, I do not support this at all. We need young people in the town now, there are already more facilities for the older people. Time to give something to the town that benefits those of us already here. We need the parking spaces too. And to not have aother high building. It is all about profit for the big developers. What about protecting the town?

    • 24th September 2019 at 10:26 am

      Hi Maia, I totaly agree with you, Its hard to protect the town when a multi million pound company has its sites on it. The best thing for you to do would be write to local newspapers and local mp as well as district councilors. Other than that theres not much we can do.

  4. Penelope Nixon
    4th October 2019 at 4:53 pm

    There is a huge amount that can be done and it is entirely mistaken to think Churchill can go just ahead with this scheme.
    If you have more money to live on than just your pension then get together with others in your position and instruct a Planning
    Consultant to write the Objections to the Planning Application. If, like me, you are a pensioner, then you have time enough to
    draft your own objections. Your Objections to be sent to the Planning Committee must be legal, not offensive, not libellous, or
    irrelevant ie the sort of letter that any civilized person would write to any local authority on any other topic. To find out what
    are relevant grounds of objection read the Application when it is published and follow the guidance you will be given. Also spend
    some time on internet research where there is plenty of advice and other Planning decisions to read. If you have sight problems,
    learning problems, or problems with English then make an appointment to see your Councillor or a CAB advisor. Everyone who
    lives in Totnes can and must take this seriously and take the steps that are open to them to have their concerns heard.

  5. Graham Bennett
    7th October 2019 at 10:17 am

    Town centres are under threat generally, and Totnes is an all too rare example of a town which has fought to buck the trend. The loss of convenient car parking could threaten this.
    Have Churchill made a planning application yet? If so, can we have its reference number please so we can send in our objections? (Penny’s advice above is really helpful.)

    • Peter Shearn
      7th October 2019 at 11:40 am

      A quick postcode search for TQ9 5RW (Brutus Centre) garners no recent results on the South Hams planning application site.
      http://apps.southhams.gov.uk/planningsearchmvc
      It may be worth running a check on this over the next few weeks for details.

  6. Georgina Allen
    8th October 2019 at 8:07 am

    Just a quick update on this – the planning committee met with someone from Churchill yesterday to discuss the changes they’ve made to their pre-application plan. They still have quite a way to go before it’s in any way ok in terms of size, design, sustainability and parking. They have brought back 25 of the 50 parking spaces and two retail units, but the full designs will be available on October 10th, in the Civic for the next consultation. It would be good if people turned up there with concerns (or not)

  7. Trish
    25th October 2019 at 11:14 pm

    Just come across this and I’m not from Totnes. What I do know is that the coalition and conservative govts have made changes to planning law which favour the developer and make it hard for planning committees to turn down applications. Unless there are sound reasons, as per planning law, the developer will appeal and win. With the parking thing, Devon County will say they have declared a climate emergency and their policy is to discourage use of the private car.

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