Council Bid to Buy Land for Community Use
Totnes Town Council has submitted a formal offer to purchase part of the former Lower School site at King Edward VI Community College (KEVICC) from Dart Valley Learning Trust for community use.
The offer of £2.5million for the site, which includes the red-brick Elmhirst Building and playing fields alongside Ashburton Road, was made in April 2022 before the land was advertised on the open market. It followed a detailed feasibility study at the end of 2021, which identified that our proposed scheme is viable.
After our initial submission, Dart Valley Learning Trust advertised the site on the open market, inviting offers by 22 July 2022. The Council will now resubmit their bid by that date ensuring it meets all the criteria specified.
“With a bid in place, the Town Council is now in commercial negotiations with KEVICC for the site so should not comment much further at the present time. While it’s important to note we’re still at an early stage of negotiation, we’re committed to working closely with the Community College and South Hams District Council to make this project happen for the Totnes community.” Catherine Marlton, Clerk Totnes Town Council
What plans does the Town Council have for this land?
The Town Council wants to see the area used as a centre for sports, recreation, the arts, learning, craft, enterprise and renewable energy. The Town Council’s plans also include improving pedestrian access to the River Dart for recreational activities, and enhancing connectivity with Totnes Railway Station and the town centre for pedestrians and cyclists.
If discussions are successful, the next stage will be securing funding and starting a community consultation. The community consultation will ensure local people, groups, and community partners can help shape the concept and plans for the future of the site.
Is the Town Council looking to buy all the land that is for sale on the KEVICC site?
No. The Town Council has put in a bid for two areas of land, marked as areas E and F1 on the map below.
Read the full sales details from Torbay Development Agency here: www.tda.uk.net/property-feed/ashburton-road-barracks-hill-totnes-devon-tq9/
Why does the Town Council want to buy this land?
The entire KEVICC site was listed as an Asset of Community Value by South Hams District Council in November 2021. This reflects its significance to the social life and wellbeing of people in Totnes.
We believe the site has huge potential to contribute to the social, environmental, and economic wellbeing of Totnes and to the physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of local people, especially young people. This has been echoed by many local people, including the ‘Why This Field?’(WTF) group of residents.
Read more about the potential social, environmental, and economic wellbeing benefits of safeguarding land for community use in the further resources listed at the bottom of this page.
What about the fact KEVICC needs to raise money?
The Town Council fully acknowledges that the Community College has an urgent need to raise a significant amount of capital. As a result, we’ve proposed a “win-win” solution that will be in the best interest of the college and the town. That means offering to buy the site at a fair value that doesn’t disadvantage the college’s plans. We can afford to do this because we can take advantage of the public sector’s ability to apply for loan funding at favourable rates of interest over 50 years (known as prudential borrowing).”
Will this mean less homes are built in this area?
Probably not. South Hams District Council’s Joint Local Plan has allocated a total of 130 homes for the whole KEVICC site. If the Town Council is successful in their bid for areas F1 and E, it is likely that full allocation of housing will be used across the other areas which are for sale.
The Town Council is fully supportive of the proposed provision of sustainable new housing and careful improvements to the town. It believes that it is possible to work with the college and South Hams District Council to meet the allocation within the overall area while still protecting and enhancing the Lower School site and Elmhirst Building for the community on a permanent basis.
Read the Joint Local Plan here: www.southhams.gov.uk/article/3457/Plymouth-and-South-West-Devon-Joint-Local-Plan
Social value – achieving community benefits
Parks white paper
Achieving community benefits – social value | Local Government Association
Centre for Thriving Places
The contribution of green and open space in public health and wellbeing
Access to green and open spaces and the role of leisure services
The Relationship between Social Cohesion and Urban Green Space: An Avenue for Health Promotion
Parks and green spaces are important for our mental health – but we need to make sure that everyone can benefit
Green spaces aren’t just for nature – they boost our mental health too
The Role of Community Centre-based Arts, Leisure and Social Activities in Promoting Adult Well-being and Healthy Lifestyles