[From Totnes News] THE vision behind Atmos Totnes is to have a wider airing as campaigners’ plans to bring the former Dairy Crest site into public ownership take another step forward. A public event is to be held at Totnes Civic Hall on Tuesday April 17 at 6.30pm when leading figures will share their plans, hopes and the latest developments as they bid to turn the town into a beacon for the rest of the country.
And campaigners will use the occasion to see if they have the ‘vital’ endorsement of the community, just two weeks before a crucial meeting with Dairy Crest officials. Rob Hopkins, of Atmos Totnes said: ‘Two weeks after this public meeting, 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 campaign got under way last month, 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, and been endorsed by many of the country’s leading social innovators as an example of best practice.
Campaigners say people want to see the former milk processing plant in community ownership, as a place that creates new employment, acting as an incubator for new enterprises, and a visitor experience for people arriving by train.
They want to mix an element of food processing, ensure that the 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, with the key gateway becoming a model of green living and working.
Paul Wesley of Totnes Chamber of Commerce told Atmos Voices: ‘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’,
Riverford’s Guy Watson 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.’
Totnes MP Dr Sarah Wollaston, 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 town mayor Cllr Judy Westacott, and will also hear from Cllr Pruw Boswell, who was hugely instrumental in getting the Brunel building listed when it was threatened with demolition in 2007.
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, organisers say.