Atmos Totnes - Totnes Development Society, Devon

  • Totnes Community Development Society (TCDS) was set up to identify opportunities to obtain land and buildings within Totnes and the surrounding area, which have the potential for viable community use.  It set out to undertake these development opportunities in a manner that would ensure their environmental and financial sustainability over the long term and provide the maximum value during construction and thereafter for the benefit of the local economy
  • Atmos Totnes is the first project to be led by Totnes Community Development Society. It is a community-led development project on a derelict industrial site providing new homes and businesses in the town
  • TCDS developed its plans through a master planning exercise with McCarthy & Stone as lead developer for part of the site and with the site’s owner, Dairy Crest plc
  • To take it forward a new route to planning was used – a Community Right to Build Order. In preparing for this route over 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
  • A grant of £40,000 from Community-Led Buildings Project Support Grant, managed by Locality, was critical in enabling dialogue with other funders. Together with grants from other sources, such as the Architectural Heritage Fund, over £450,000 was raised to commission the technical pre-development work required to fully understand the constraints on the site and to work with the community to establish the Community Right to Build Order
  • Atmos Totnes Community Right to Build Order sets out plans for: 62 permanently affordable homes, 37 additional houses for those aged over 55, 7,051 square metres of workspace, a 58-bed hotel, an energy centre, a community venue, youth provision, health facilities and an integrated sustainable transport plan
  • £3.5 million funding has been raised from a number of sources and the project is due to go on site in October 2018

Key Messages

  • Community-led development is more than just about “development” per se, the process provides an opportunity to support a community to consider the ways it can become more resilient and sustainable by providing a space for connections to develop and grow
  • Engaging early with professional services and statutory bodies (including with local authorities through pre-applications) can help set the scene, and support and enable communities to be confident and ambitious about the potential and practicalities of their own community-led development process right from the start
  • The process of development should seek to engage local people and empower them to make informed decisions which in turn can provide, or link-up, with housing, infrastructure, support and local services

More detailed information on Atmos Totnes is available here.

Case study snapshots of other community anchor organisations can be found in Sections 1.1, 1.18, 2.4, 3.7, 3.10, 5.7 and 5.8 of the Toolkit.


Published in March 2018