An historic agreement has paved the way for the regeneration of the Dairy Crest site in Totnes, which has been vacant since 2007.
The pioneering Atmos project, put forward by Totnes Community Development Society, has driven negotiations to create a national legal ‘first’ that will secure the land for community development.
An agreement is now in place for Atmos that will allow the purchase of land, including the historic Brunel building, by Totnes community for £1.
With the support of patrons such as TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jonathan Dimbleby, Atmos Totnes plan to turn the site into residential and business accommodation.
The people of the town have been granted new powers under the 2012 Localism Act, including a Community Right to Build Order in May 2015, giving the community control not only over what is built,but how it’s built and to what standards.
If the order is successful it will be one of the first in the UK giving the public of Totnes the right to a referendum. A ‘yes’ vote would allow work to begin in March 2016.
Ed Vidler of TCDS said: “Thanks to an extraordinary amount of vision and hard work from many people, we have signed an agreement with Dairy Crest, and with McCarthy & Stone, that will define the future of this site.
“As a national first, it offers the potential to showcase a whole new approach to development.
“One based on community support, sustainability, a new economic model that builds and nurtures local economies, social justice, creativity, the arts and meeting the needs of this town rather than, as is so often the case, the needs of developers and distant investors.
“For a town currently under siege from developers, demonstrating such a model could not be more timely.”