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.

  5 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.

  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?

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