[Atmos Totnes press release 4/4/2012]. Atmos Totnes, the campaign to bring the former Dairy Crest site in Totnes into community ownership, will be holding a public event on Tuesday April 17th at 6.30pm in Totnes Civic Hall to share its plans, its hopes for the site, and the latest developments in the campaign.  The campaign kicked off three weeks ago, when writer and broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby, one of the project’s patrons, joined over 300 people outside the site for a huge photo opportunity.  Since then, the campaign has attracted a great deal of media interest, has published dozens of ‘Atmos Voices’ (interviews with people from across the community voicing their support for the campaign), and been endorsed by many of the country’s leading social innovators as an example of best practice.

[Please download, print and distribute the event’s poster here].

From the many interviews already done with local people, a clear pattern is emerging, that people want to see the former milk processing plant in community ownership, as a place that creates new employment, which acts as an incubator for new enterprises, which becomes a visitor experience for people coming to Totnes by train, that includes an element of food processing, that the former Brunel building becomes a public space for music and the arts while maintaining a link to its heritage, and that it embody a low carbon vision for the future, becoming a model of green living and working in practice.  The Atmos campaign is committed to making this a reality on this key ‘gateway’ to Totnes.

Among the many ‘Atmos Voices’ interviews, Paul Wesley of Totnes Chamber of Commerce said “it’s a terrible shame this site has been empty and derelict in the town. It’s an eyesore, but it’s our eyesore.   I think the Atmos project as it is presented is fantastic, and we’re very lucky to have people that will take the time and give their expertise to produce this”, Guy Watson of Riverford Organic Vegetables said “this is a fantastic site and it would be lovely to see something that was driven by a desire to serve the community rather than a desire to maximise property values”, and Dr. Sarah Wollaston MP, the campaign’s other Patron, said “I’d like to see this site as an inspiration, to say how we can design things differently, how we can have a combination of housing and facilities for people to work, but also at the heart of it to have a historic building like the Brunel building, somewhere we can showcase how we do things differently in Totnes”.

The public event will be an opportunity for members of the public to hear more about the Atmos project’s proposals, to be a part of shaping the next steps of the community campaign.  It will be opened by Totnes Mayor Judy Westacott, and will also hear from Cllr. Pruw Boswell, who was largely instrumental in getting the Brunel building on the site listed when it appeared to be threatened with imminent demolition in 2007, and who had threatened to lie down in front of the bulldozers if needed.  It will feature presentations of the work done by the Atmos group so far, and invite further input and ideas. All are welcome, and the event is free.

“Two weeks after this public meeting”, Rob Hopkins of Atmos Totnes told us, “we have a meeting with Dairy Crest.  Although we have met them before, this is the first since our campaign began.  We know that they are very much aware of the campaign and of the level of support for it in this community, and we will be arguing that they need to work constructively with Totnes, as it is in this community that the vision, the passion and the future of that site lies, as well as the only way they will likely unlock any value from it.  What we need to know from the public meeting, before we meet with Dairy Crest, that we have the community behind us, their endorsement is vital”.

The Atmos campaign has also been attracting national attention.  Interviewed recently, Iain Tuckett of Coin Street Community Builders in London, which pioneered the practice of communities acquiring and developing their own assets, said “what’s amazing about Totnes is the sheer positive energy of the groups there.  If the groups are able to secure that site, then it would be very high profile, and it is bound to be a success.  People will want to go down to Totnes to say “look, this is how you do it”.  There are other towns like Totnes, that have got great opportunities, but they need a beacon and I think Totnes could be that beacon”.

Further information

The Atmos Totnes campaign is a joint initiative of Transition Town Totnes and the Totnes Development Trust.

Some architectural images of how the site could be look are attached and more can be found at https://atmostotnes.org/the-project/our-designs/.  The Patrons of the Atmos campaign are Jonathan Dimbleby and Dr. Sarah Wollaston MP.  Downloadable MP3 files of the ‘Atmos Voices’ interviews can be downloaded from https://atmostotnes.org/interviews/  and you are welcome to use any of them in any audio pieces you are creating.  The story of the Atmos project, and of the Dairy Crest site since its closure, can be found at https://atmostotnes.org/the-project/the-story-so-far/

If you would like to do interviews about this campaign, please contact Rob Hopkins on 07868 604454 or Frances Northrop on 07706 466841

Transition Town Totnes: 43 Fore Street, Totnes, Devon. TQ9 5HN. www.transitiontowntotnes.org/  Telephone 01803 867358