Will this development take people and jobs away from historic town centre?2021-05-15T18:57:32+01:00

Local enterprise, supporting decent livelihoods are at the heart of Atmos Totnes, and that extends well beyond the Atmos site itself. It is a principle, established by the community during the consultation process, and which has since underpinned all the work on designing the site plans that are included in the Community Right to Build Order. The final mix of uses proposed are designed complement and add to our vital and historic high street economy rather than detract from it. As a national first, and a creative and pioneering development it is likely that Atmos Totnes, if built, will be a draw to people from across the UK and beyond. Its location next to the train station should encourage this further. More visitors to Totnes is likely to benefit the town and beyond.

Where is the money coming from?2021-05-15T18:56:35+01:00

Getting this far, and producing the level of detailed work that underpins the Community Right to Build Order for Atmos Totnes has required money from a mixture of grant support, social investment and from philanthropic individuals who have given or lent money in order to progress the project. You can see more about our current funders here.

Once planning consent is in place for the site, Atmos Totnes we be built in a series of phases, each one of which will be thoroughly costed and for which a detailed business plan will be created. Funding for the development will come from a mixture of community investment, loans from appropriate financial institutions and individual investors, as well as grant support.

How will the site be run after it is developed?2021-05-15T18:55:43+01:00

Atmos Totnes will in large part, be owned and run by the community. We are currently developing the ownership and management plan for the site. We are exploring how Atmos Totnes can operate locally as a Community Land Trust of some description. The form of this is yet to be decided and a number of existing and new and exploratory models are being considered. For general information about Community Land Trusts here.

Who is running this process/ who ultimately manages this process?2021-05-15T18:54:46+01:00

Totnes Community Development Society is managing this process and is responsible for taking Atmos Totnes forward. TCDS is not for profit organisation (an Industrial Provident Society for the benefit of the community). You can read more about the current Board of TCDS here.

How does this process relate to all the other development projects in the area at the moment?2021-05-15T11:23:26+01:00

Currently Atmos Totnes stands as its own development and is unrelated to any other development locally. However, we know that other projects and developments will be watching Atmos Totnes because of the use of a Community Right to Build Order and therefore we will share what we learn when appropriate and time allows.

Does the Community Right to Build process give individuals less opportunity to get involved or object to what is being built?2021-05-15T11:22:58+01:00

No. There are more opportunities to be involved through this route than through traditional routes to planning. Importantly normal standards in relation to planning regulations, and also a number of Basic Conditions, apply. This is not an easier route to planning, but we believe it is a fairer route for a community as whole.

Community Right to Build Order process as new route to planning offers substantially more opportunity to input and comment on each stage of design by a community than other planning processes. There have been over 4,500 contributions during consultation for Atmos Totnes since consultation started in September 2014. There have been over 20 consultation sessions (some several weeks long). Specific groups have been offered consultation sessions as part of this.

It is important to note that whilst this is a community-led development that does not mean that anyone developing on the Dairy Crest site is able to disregard planning regulations. The Community Right to Build Order process still ensures that all the usual planning regulations are met as well as a number of Basic Conditions. Statutory bodies have to review the materials, and an Independent Examiner has reviewed the process facilitated by Totnes Community Development Society and recommended that Atmos Totnes project proceed to referendum. This referendum enabled the community to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the Community Right to Build Order for Atmos Totnes.

How will the community benefit from Atmos Totnes?2021-05-15T11:22:04+01:00

Totnes, like many places, is under huge pressure for new housing. Atmos Totnes offers a new model, one where the community itself determines the development of a site. This has huge potential both locally and nationally. Atmos Totnes will create jobs, genuinely affordable homes, skills, training, new spaces for local businesses, be a development that will attract visitors to Totnes, and much more.

Can communities really become developers?2021-05-15T11:21:25+01:00

Absolutely they can. There are amazing examples of community-led housing, such as, locally, Transition Homes in Totnes, the Broadhempston Community Land Trust housing scheme and the community housing scheme in East Portlemouth. In terms of something on the scale of ambition of Atmos Totnes, possibly the best example in the UK is Coin Street Community Builders (CSCB) in London.

Since its creation in 1984, emerging out of a community campaign against a huge commercial office development on the South Bank in London, CSCB redeveloped the Oxo Tower Wharf, Gabriel’s Wharf, Bernie Spain Gardens and set up four housing co-operatives. The housing co-operatives are housed in new buildings commissioned by CSCB. In 2007, CSCB occupied new offices at the Coin Street neighbourhood centre, also designed by Haworth Tompkins. As well as offices the building includes a day nursery and crèche, conference and meeting facilities.

CSCB also offers a variety of community programmes for people of all ages including youth clubs, sports and dance sessions and family and children’s activities. The entire development is in community ownership.

How were the plans developed for Atmos Totnes?2021-05-15T11:19:24+01:00

Between September 2016 and November 2016, the Atmos Totnes project has been designed by thousands of people in this community. They have been working alongside designers and engineers to develop and review plans, to meet the needs of this town through this disused piece of land. It was a remarkable consultation. You can read the full report on the consultation process here.

How would future design work needed for Atmos Totnes be dealt with in terms of planning?2021-05-15T11:16:52+01:00

The Totnes community voted ‘yes’ in a local referendum to the Community Right to Build Order for Atmos Totnes being given planning permission. Therefore, Atmos Totnes must be carried out in accordance with the Order Conditions set out in the Order. These Order Conditions, written in full in the Order, stipulate what must happen before development commences on the site and how development must be undertaken. Where further details are needed for the design, these would be the subject of community consultation as a community-led development, and must be developed in accordance with Order and, as per the Order Conditions, must be submitted to and approved in writing by South Hams District Council before development commences. It is the sole responsibility of South Hams District Council to discharge the Conditions.

What were local people being asked to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to in the Atmos Totnes referendum?2021-05-15T11:17:11+01:00

In the referendum held on the 23 November 2016, the ballot paper had the question “Do you want the development in the Community Right to Build Order for Totnes Neighbourhood Area to have planning permission?” The community had the opportunity to either say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to this question and Atmos Totnes.

In the run up to the referendum people were invited take a look at the plans for the proposed development so that they could each make their choice.  Atmos Totnes plans include:

  • 99 homes including 62 truly affordable houses linked only to this community, and 37 ring- fenced homes for older people
  • Workspace for local businesses to provide at least 160 jobs
  • Refurbishment of the Brunel Building, a health and wellbeing centre, space dedicated to the whole community (young and old alike)
  • Community ownership of the majority of the land through a town wide share issue
  • Flood defence for Totnes through redevelopment of the site
  • Training opportunities through the build, management and maintenance of the site.


South Hams District Council have published formal information relating to the Community Right to Build Order local referendum for Atmos Totnes which will take place on the 23 November 2016. View the masterplan here that was used in the referendum.

Is the Atmos scheme ready to build?2021-05-15T11:10:14+01:00

Yes. The Atmos Totnes Process has achieved Planning Permission for the site through a Made Community Right to Build Order, which was won through a thorough and innovative community consultation process leading to a referendum. A comprehensive phasing plan has been drawn up and the design team have all the technical design, engineering drawings and supply chain ready to start building in accordance with the strict licensing and phasing that exists on the site.

Does Atmos have planning permission?2021-05-15T11:08:04+01:00

Yes. Subsequent to the community-led design process the scheme was taken through a Community Right to Build Order process (one of the first in the country) concluding with a referendum by local people last November 2016 where 86% of votes were cast in favour of the scheme receiving planning permission. Consequently the Community Right to Build Order for the scheme (including the Brunel Building) was Made by South Hams District Council on 1st March 2017.

I know nothing about Atmos Totnes, what is it?2021-05-15T11:08:59+01:00

Atmos is a community-led project to redevelop a derelict industrial site (the Dairy Crest site next to Totnes rail station) for homes and businesses in Totnes. The plans show 99 homes (62 of which will be genuinely affordable for the community and 37 will be for older people), and enterprise and work space providing employment for at the very least 160 people plus services and amenities to support the Atmos Totnes and the community of Totnes. A new route to planning has been used – the Community Right to Build Order. In preparing for this route there were over 4,500 meaningful contributions into the design process from the community and a professional design team has supported in meeting the design needs within the substantial constraints of the site itself. It was approved in a historic community referendum in November 2016. TCDS are currently working to ensure the project goes ahead after it was purchased in murky circumstances by a private developer. To see how it is intended that Atmos will be delivered, see our Delivery Plan here.

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