TCDS ‘plan’ for Totnes regeneration site dismissed as ‘fantasy’

Developers behind plans to breathe new life into the former dairy crest site in Totnes have branded a rival “plan’” from the Totnes Community Development Society (TCDS) as “an undeliverable fantasy”.

TCDS is publishing a so-called “new vision” for the site despite not owning it and having already spent years and £1.168* million [see note below] on developing its failed ATMOS plan.

In a statement reported last week, TCDS said it would be requesting a meeting with the owners of the site, Fastglobe, “to discuss our purchase of the site” and would be unveiling “new plans” to develop it on Friday (16 June).

How TCDS can fund any of this activity is unclear. In its latest published accounts, available on the Financial Conduct Authority website, TCDS said it was overdrawn by £635,690. In the same accounts (p10) its own auditors said “a material uncertainty exists that may cast significant doubt on the society’s ability to continue as a going concern.”

Fastglobe, which acquired the former creamery for £1.35m in January 2021, has just submitted a planning application to South Hams District Council to regenerate it with a mixture of housing, shops, offices, and open space. The plans include the renovation of the historic Grade II listed Brunel Building pumping house for community use, and a major flood defence scheme for the town.

Now the company has blasted TCDS for its “fantasy” plans.

Fastglobe spokesman Patrick Gillies said: “TCDS are pushing an undeliverable fantasy that they have no means to progress, on a site they don’t own. They were told years ago that their ATMOS scheme was not commercially viable and a report they jointly commissioned (p31) said there would be a £55m black hole because of the high development costs.

“It really is time to move on, rather than promote some pipe dream that will never happen, no matter how laudable in its aims. I would urge the community to support the Fastglobe application which comes from an organisation that actually owns the site and has the resources to bring meaningful regeneration to this long-derelict part of Totnes. The focus now has got to be on delivery and removing blight and anti-social behaviour by transforming this area into an asset for the whole town.

“We have resubmitted our application in accordance with the wishes of the local community and the Council to see more housing on the site and should the scheme not be approved we will look at alternative options that have become available to us.”

Fastglobe have submitted a revised outline application for the mixed-use development of the eight-acre site, which has been dormant since 2007, and a detailed planning application for the renovation and conversion of the Grade Brunel Building.

The new plans have significantly increased the number of new homes provided on the site from 25 to 79 in response to local feedback and have removed 20 holiday lodges that were in the original proposals first put forward last year. The application can be viewed here.

* This figure is taken from the TCDS most recently available annual accounts published on the Financial Conduct Authority website. On p17 the document states: Total pre-development expenditure on the Atmos project totals £1,168,394 at 31 December 2021.