TV CHEF Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall is the latest celebrity to put his name to a campaign to turn a derelict industrial site into a community owned and managed eco-housing and business complex.  The River Cottage chef visited Totnes to pledge his support to the Atmos campaign.

The Devon-based eco-campaigner joins Kevin McCloud, Jonathan Dimbleby, Tim Smit and MP Dr Sarah Wollaston, who are already patrons of the project which is seeking to bring the former Dairy Crest site into community ownership to develop it as ‘the heart of a new economy’.

Speaking to dozens of Atmos supporters at the site, Mr Fearnely-Whittingstall said it ‘made no sense for amazing buildings with great spaces in the heart of communities to stand idle for years’.

He said: “There’s no point in just waiting for the highest business bidder to come along when there’s such a fantastic opportunity to do something that would really put some incredible energy and heart into the whole community here in Totnes.

“The point of a project like this is to put the issues of recession and the economic growth of the nation to one side and say listen, we can make our own local growth here, we don’t have to be dependent on government and big business to thrive as a community. To support our local entrepreneurs. To tap into great local food suppliers.”

He added: “As well as providing a home and a potential business site for people who have great food ideas, this is going to draw people in from all around the community.

“I think it will send out a new wave so those people around here who are perhaps a little undecided about the Transition movement or not quite sure what it’s all about are going to be drawn to this.

“They’re really going to want to see what’s happening and when they get here, I’m sure they’re going to be blown away.”

The project is currently in what it hopes will be the final stages of negotiations with Dairy Crest over the site’s future, working towards an exclusivity agreement which will see the land withdrawn from sale and Atmos Totnes going for planning permission.

Rob Hopkins, of Atmos Totnes and one of the Transition Town movement pioneers, said: “We hope Hugh’s support and visit to the town will prove to be the final push needed for Dairy Crest to take this community seriously as the owner and developer of the site.

“Our campaign has mobilised many hundreds of people and has shown the depth of community support for the Atmos proposals. This is where the vision, passion and excitement over the site’s future resides.

“There is a palpable sense that we are nearly there.”

Original article here.