Who are Totnes Community Development Society?

As well as being posted here, this newsletter is sent out to members of TCDS – the organisation set up to bring forward the community led redevelopment of the old Dairy Crest site in the town, but with the broader objective of holding land and buildings in community ownership to meet local need. The work of TCDS is governed by five Directors with a mission to ensure these spaces support uses which directly involve and benefit people in the town.

Currently TCDS facilitates Atmos Totnes, a community-led redevelopment adjacent to Totnes railway station for truly affordable housing, community and work space. It also manages the Mansion on Fore Street in Totnes as a community facility held in trust by the King Edward VI College Site Foundation.

Read about the people behind TCDS here.

Regular Update

Many thanks to those of you who have been supporting us directly, or quietly, over the last few months. These have been a time for us to plan and start to execute our plan to re-secure the Atmos Totnes site which was (as we now know) sold to a private company in January 2020. We are now at the point where we will be able to put out a fortnightly newsletter keeping you up to date on our actions relating to the site, and also to keep you informed about all of the exciting things that are starting to happen at the Mansion now that we are starting to reopen both the inside and outside spaces after too long. If you are interested in using space in the building, please do email Pat or Frances at mansion@totnescommunity.org.uk or just come down and hang out on a Friday and Saturday evening between to enjoy the Pizza Pirates experience in the beautiful courtyard which is being lovingly tended by some of our volunteers – Wendy, Bethan, Neil, Hilary and Susan. It’s a perfect spot for young families! All welcome.

So Who Are Atmos for Totnes?

Most people will have noticed the brilliant work of the Atmos for Totnes Campaign group across the town.-The red hearts in the windows are part of this group’s efforts to remind the town about what has happened. The Campaign group and TCDS are totally aligned in their focus of bringing the Atmos Totnes site into community ownership for development by TCDS as outlined in the Community Right to Build Order and the Joint Local Plan. The Campaign group focuses on sharing the story of what has happened with the community and a growing number of people who aren’t local but for whom the project resonates. TCDS and the Campaign Group will continue to work side by side. Our energy levels and resilience are high, for as long as it takes. You can see them in person at the Atmos Hub in the Mansion on Fridays and Saturdays between 11 and 2 (where you can pick up a heart for your window) or contact them directly through their website.

On Sunday night, as darkness fell; Brian Eno lit up the Atmos chimney.

There is no doubt that the Atmos project is close to the hearts of many locals but news of what has happened has reached audiences far beyond the borders of our town. Many are speaking out against the wrong that has been done to the community of Totnes and are looking for ways in which they can show us their support. Brian Eno is one such supporter and he gave time to compose original music that was played alongside his art which was beautifully and sensitively projected onto the Atmos chimney.

These first of these two videos is a showcase of the event and the second formed part of the event. You will notice that Brian’s isn’t the only famous voice supporting Atmos. Our grateful thanks go to the Atmos for Totnes campaign for organising and hosting this event QED productions and The Media Workshop Ltd for the projections and to Beccy Strong for the brilliant film.


What can be done?

There are a number of routes that TCDS are taking in their efforts to put the site back into community hands. Most recently a letter was sent to Saputo Canada reminding them of their ethical and moral responsibility towards the people of Totnes. Here is an excerpt of that letter:

We note the 7 pillars of Saputo’s Promise embed your corporate values and your stakeholders’ concerns within the DNA of the company. And we further note the Saputo Code of Ethics formalises those values and illustrates how they apply to your employees in practice. The Totnes Community Development Society can evidence how the sale of the former Dairy Crest site in Totnes has flouted the letter and the spirit of at least three of the seven pillars in Saputo’s Promise: Business Ethics, Community and Our People. And, further, we can evidence, in some detail, how the Saputo Code of Ethics has been repeatedly broken in relation to the sale of the site by Saputo UK to FastGlobe Ltd. Our concern in this matter is ethical, not legal.”

We will continue to keep you updated through this newsletter, sending out shorter ones if something important happens that it is important we share with you as our members. In the meantime, please do continue to tell people about our activities and feel free to get involved by emailing us and/or encourage others to become members and support our efforts. We remain deeply grateful to you all for your membership and support.