[Press release from Atmos Totnes 15th June 2012]

Atmos Totnes, the community campaign working to bring the former Dairy Crest site next to Totnes station into community ownership, has unveiled two new high profile Patrons bringing their support to the project.  Atmos has, in recent months, succeeded in mobilising many hundreds of local people in a high profile push which led to a meeting with Dairy Crest representatives in late May described by both parties as “very constructive”.  At that meeting, Atmos were invited to submit a proposal which Dairy Crest stated would treat “very seriously”.

In addition to their existing Patrons, broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby and local MP Dr. Sarah Wollaston, Atmos have now announced that Tim Smit, Chief Executive of the Eden Project in Cornwall, and also Kevin McCloud, architect and presenter of Channel 4’s long-running ‘Grand Designs’ series have offered their support and endorsement of the initiative.

Tim Smit, who turned Eden from an idea into a £144 million project that is now a huge international success, 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.  How appropriate than in a Transition Town, we see a place that is about making, about imagination, about creativity … 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 worth …  I’m really pleased to be Patron of this project”.

Kevin McCloud, whose TV series have done a huge amount to promote the concept of green building, stated “for years and years, development has been top-down, and it’s been a job where people have bought and sold and traded it and upped its value through the planning process, only to build rather crappy homes and buildings on it in the end.  I’m much more interested in the Gandhian approach, the bottom-up democratic where people as communities work together to empower themselves to take control.  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 is in discussion with Dairy Crest about establishing 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, which would see it developed as ‘the heart of a new economy’ for Totnes, with business incubation, food processing, public space and as a demonstration of the Transition approach.

The Atmos Totnes campaign has featured a very well-attended public meeting, hundreds of people turning up with Jonathan Dimbleby for a group photo in front of the Brunel Building, and ‘Atmos Voices’ being added every day to the Atmos website, of local people sharing their visions for the site’s future.  For the latest on the campaign, visit www.atmostotnes.org.