Neighbourhood plan paused in bid to add Atmos community-led aims

By Ginny Ware   |   Totnes Reporter   |
Monday 1st November 2021 8:00 am
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The former Dairy Crest site

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Totnes Town Council has agreed to pause the district council’s examination of the town’s neighbourhood plan in a bid to include the aims of the Atmos project into the blueprint planning strategy.

Following a referendum in 2016, Totnes Community Development Society (TCDS) secured a groundbreaking Community Right to Build Order for its multi-million pound Atmos scheme at the former Dairy Crest site.

This gave townsfolk planning permission to build genuinely affordable housing, retirement homes, workspaces providing employment for local people, a hotel, community and youth facilities and an arts centre.

But the order expired last year, meaning the proposed complex cannot now go ahead without a planning application.

It also means Atmos plans for the site have now been removed from the Joint Local Plan, which gives the town council the chance to add the scheme to the neighbourhood plan – even though the site, next to the railway station, was sold to glue company Fastglobe (Mastics) Ltd by new owners Saputo UK in March this year.

The neighbourhood plan has already gone out to public consultation and is now in the process of being examined by South Hams Council.

But Totnes town councillors have agreed to pause this examination for a period of four months in a bid to also include Atmos aims.

Speaking at the recent full town council meeting, planning chairwoman, Cllr Georgina Allen, explained: “The town council has long been supportive of the Atmos site, we believe what has been proposed there will be incredibly beneficial for the town and we do not want to see it lost.

“As it has now left the Joint Local Plan there is the chance to add the proposal into the neighbourhood plan to show that the town council supports the Atmos proposal in its entirety.

“I very much recommend this to council. It’s important we do everything we can to ensure this incredibly important project comes forward for the town.”

The development of the former derelict Dairy Crest site cannot be linked to Atmos in the Totnes Neighbourhood Plan but Atmos proposals for it can be, it is hoped.

This includes a mixed-use regeneration scheme to deliver the restoration and reuse of Brunel’s listed atmospheric railway building along with affordable and retirement housing; an energy centre, sustainable transport hub, hotel, health and wellbeing centre, and employment spaces.

The town council has resurrected its original policy document for the Atmos site, which was originally rejected by South Hams for inclusion into the neighbourhood plan as it was not linked to policy at the time.

But now it is, says Cllr Allen, which gives the town council another stab at “safeguarding” the site.

The council will consult the public on its proposals before submitting them to South Hams Council.

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