WTF: the Why This Field? campaign in Totnes

A group of people who live in the beautiful Devon town of Totnes, have come together in the Why This Field (WTF) campaign to support Totnes Town Council’s (T.T.C.) bid to purchase The Lower Field & The Elmhurst Site from K.E.V.I.C.C. school.

The much-loved school is in need of funds to fix, revive and improve facilities and is in the process of selling off large areas to achieve this. The campaigners fully recognise and support the school in its endeavours and want to ensure the governors give full consideration to the Totnes Town Council bid…something which has not, so far, happened.

The headmaster and governors have tasked The Torbay Development Agency to put together a plan to raise this funding. They created a consultation (available in full here). Sadly, this consultation was very poorly publicised and a tiny number of people, 99 in fact, responded to it.

The consultation sets several plots of land aside for developers to make offers on. One of these is the open playing field leading down to the River Dart & The Elmhirst Building. Totnes Town Council wants to save these spaces from the developers for the people of Totnes.

I met Steph at a picnic in the field to raise awareness of the campaign:

I asked Steph how she would answer those who call the campaign a classic example of nimbyism, especially given the current housing crisis:

The Town Council have come up with a solution that not only retains the area as a green space, but offers a range of important benefits:

  • It saves the field as a location of amenity for the town with potential for a community park and playing areas.
  • The space remains free of housing & commercial development.
  • The Elmhirst Building can be renovated for public and private use with potential to generate funds.
  • A Park & Ride with Bob the Bus can be implemented easing traffic in the Town
  • Access to the hugely popular River Dart landing stage can be improved
  • Parking spaces and other facilities will raise funds to cover the purchase & raise future funding for the town
  • KEVICC School benefits from almost immediate access to more than 2.5 million pounds allowing the remaining sites to generate further income
  • The Space is subject to Air Quality Management – The TTC plan will save the area from an appalling increase in pollution.

Is that bid being made on a commercial basis, I asked Kevin Burchell of WTF?

There is a public meeting Friday 17 June to explain why the field is worth fighting for and fleshing out the plans to develop it as an amenity for the whole community and for visitors.