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Venturesome team


Charities Aid Foundation


11 September 2015

Totnes Community Development Society (’TCDS’) is an Industrial and Provident Society based in Totnes, Devon. It is a local volunteer-led organisation that is aiming to convert a former Dairy Crest industrial site, which has been derelict since 2007, into a mixed-use low-carbon development that will encompass affordable homes for local people, workspaces and community buildings for everyone in the local area.

The closure of the Dairy Crest factory in 2007 saw the loss of 164 local jobs. Since 2007, members of what is now TCDS (formed in 2012) have been leading the development to transform it into a community asset.

One of the key aims of this development is that it will ensure that the community own and manage this project, a stark change to the usual top-down developments that take place across the UK. As part of its community engagement, TCDS have ensured that there is a real connection between the project and the local people who will benefit from it once completed. The affordable homes that are built on the site will be offered to local people in need of homes, whilst the workspaces will be offered at a reduced rate to small and micro-businesses in the area. The entire development will be low-carbon while the construction process will use a local supply chain that uses local builders and materials.

CAF Venturesome, through the Community Land Trust Fund (‘CLT Fund’) has supported TCDS with £70,000, which will go towards costs associated with securing planning permission. The CLT Fund supports voluntary groups across the UK who are looking to build affordable homes in their local area but require high risk capital to turn their ideas into a reality. These voluntary groups, such as TCDS, are often unable to access mainstream finance to enable them to do this.

The scheme is one of the first projects in the country that will go through the Community Right to Build Order (‘CRTBO’) which has come about as a result of the Localism Act. The CRTBO is designed to make the local community at the heart of the planning process and will give the overall approval for local development schemes securing planning permission. This makes TCDS a truly community controlled development and, if successful, offers a route for other CLT organisations to use CRTBO as a way to secure planning permission - thus growing the market further.

Totnes Community Development Society

The TCDS development will have a huge impact on the local community in the form of jobs, more affordable homes and a vibrant community space in the heart of the town. Totnes has seen house prices increasing which has led to young people and families having to move out of the local area. This deal will also have a positive impact on the CLT sector which has grown from 16 CLTs in 2010 to 150 currently. The CRTBO offers a new route to planning for CLTs who often find the planning process slow and cumbersome. Furthermore, TCDS shows how CLTs and other voluntary groups are able to tap into the growing trend around community asset ownership and are able to manage complex developments which involve a range of stakeholders.

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