All of us involved in Atmos Totnes regularly experience people stopping us to ask “what’s happening with Atmos?” Although it may look as though the last year has been very quiet in terms of progress, we wanted to take this opportunity to update you on the significant activity that’s been moving the Atmos Project forward, albeit mostly behind the scenes.

Over the last year we have agreed a Heads of Terms with Dairy Crest to move forward to develop and acquire the site and undertake the masterplanning.  Dairy Crest have introduced a developer to the project that they wish us to work with on a portion of the site. We are not able to say who the developer is at this stage, but we have now met the developer and feel that we can work with them.

Converting the Heads of Terms to legal agreements has taken longer than we anticipated but we are now looking as though they should be in place by Easter. The legal agreements will give all parties the comfort they need to move the project forward, so once they are in place we are aiming to launch the project formally.

In addition to the Heads of Terms, we have also secured loan finance from the Environmental Research Association and grant funding from the Homes and Communities Agency to support the masterplanning and project management work required. We are thankful to both funders for their support, and once we launch the project their funding will be much needed.

The aim, following signing of the legal agreements, is to develop a masterplan for the whole of the site and a detailed plan for the south side of the site. We will work with all key statutory agencies in developing the masterplan as well as consult with local people. Both will be developed from the work we have already completed, so the aim is for a site which has mixed use. The intention, once the masterplan is agreed, is to take the plans for the south of the site to planning using a Community Right to Build Order. This will require further consultation and community engagement and will ultimately end in a referendum, with all those living in Totnes and on the electoral register having the right to vote voting on the plans.

Alongside the consultation on the plans, we will offer a community share issue. Those buying shares (we will keep the value of the shares low) will become members of Totnes Community Development Society and in this way have a personal interest in the site.

The timeframes for the masterplanning and the community share issue are still not clear, but we are hoping that over the next couple of months we will be able to put clear dates to them. However, for now we are concentrating on getting the legal agreements in place and then letting everyone know about the partnership and the constraints we need to work within.

So, that’s it for now. Once we have more news about the legal agreements we will let everyone know. Thanks for your continued support, and for your passion for a new vision for the site.

Dave Chapman and the Atmos Totnes team.