A community group which is campaigning to transform a disused dairy into a “community hub” has attracted two more high-profile patrons.  Eden Project co-founder Tim Smit and designer and TV’s Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud have signed up to support Atmos Totnes, the project which aims to invigorate a site in the South Devon town to create affordable housing, sustainable business units and community facilities.

Hundreds of people have supported the bid, including existing patrons, the broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby and Totnes MP Dr Sarah Wollaston.

Tim Smit said: “One of the great things we need to know about the UK is that it was once the manufacturing capital of the world, we were the masters of invention, and at the heart of the Atmos Project is a paean to the work of probably the greatest engineer who’s ever lived in Britain, Isambard Kingdom Brunel.”

In about 1845, the older buildings on the site were built as part of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s ‘atmospheric railway’, an experimental way of powering trains which ran between Exeter and Newton Abbot.

Mr Smit added: “Our future depends on getting our young and our old to get curious again, to make wonderful things, which actually make the future something which is worthwhile.”

Kevin McCloud, whose TV series have done a huge amount to promote the concept of green building, said: “There’s nothing more exciting than seeing people taking control for where they live. I think Atmos is important because Totnes was one of those early Transition Towns, so to see it flowering, to see it moving onto the next level, the next stage of community empowerment and ownership, is really exciting, but I think it also speaks volumes for where the whole nation, indeed where as a society we could go.”

Atmos Totnes has submitted a request to Dairy Crest for an Exclusivity Agreement and an option that would see the site withdrawn from sale so that Atmos could work up a detailed proposal for the site. It is awaiting the company’s response.

[Original story here]