The great news is Totnes Town Council’s nomination of the former King Edward VI Community College (KEVICC) Lower School site as an Asset of Community Value has been approved by South Hams District Council (SHDC). The site will now be entered onto the List of Assets of Community Value and will remain listed for a period of five years.
The Town Council identified the Lower School site (known as the Elmhirst Site), as a potential Asset of Community Value in February 2021, several months before KEVICC consulted the community on its future plans, including its proposal to dispose of the Elmhirst Site for housing development. The Town Council then submitted a formal Asset of Community nomination application for the site to SHDC in early September this year.
While this has been happening the Town Council has undertaken a two-stage feasibility process to assess the viability of its plans to acquire, preserve and enhance the Elmhirst Site as an open green space and community centre for the citizens of Totnes on a permanent basis.
There is a commitment to work with local people to create a community centre for sports, recreation, the arts, education, crafts, enterprise and green energy on the Elmhirst Site. This also includes its plan to improve access to the River Dart and connectivity with Totnes Railway Station and the town centre for pedestrians and cyclists.
The vision recognises the huge potential of the site to contribute to the social, environmental and economic sustainability of Totnes and to the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of local people, especially young people. It also established the Elmhirst Site is an important ‘green lung’ within the town and, particularly given the air quality issues on Ashburton Road.
The outcome of the feasibility process has been really encouraging and we are now going to take a decision at Full Council on 6th December to formally proceed with pursuing the purchase of land. It is essential KEVICC gets the £7million investment so desperately needed, and the aspiration for a “win, win, win” solution is still possible if KEVICC receives the money it needs and the Elmhirst Building and wider site are preserved and enhanced for the social benefit and wellbeing of local people.
The plan is to borrow the money to purchase the site from the Public Works Loan Board and to pursue future income streams from users of the site and grant funding to do the upgrades so desperately needed. The financial forecast currently shows the site purchase is possible without increasing the budget to accommodate it.
The recent listing of the Elmhirst Site as an Asset of Community Value is a boost to the Town Council’s plans and formally reflects the significance of the site to the community of Totnes. We believe it is now incumbent upon the Town Council, KEVICC and SHDC, as public sector bodies in service to our place and community, to work together to deliver the best outcome for local people.