Transition Culture

An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

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21 Jul 2009

The ATMOS Project: Transition in Action

atmosAbout 2 years ago, in Totnes, Dairy Crest, the major employer in the town, closed, with the loss of 160 jobs.  The site on which it was based, 8 acres adjoining the railway station and running down to the river, now stands derelict.  Although most of the buildings are unspectacular steel factory buildings, it is also home to a building built by Brunel for an experimental approach to running the UK’s railway system that never took off, atmospheric railway, and also to a landmark tall chimney.  A number of local groups, including Transition Town Totnes, have got together and are proposing to bring the site into community ownership and to create an visionary development that embodies the principles and opportunities of Transition.  A new masterplanning document for the site has just been published, which we think is rather wonderful and exemplary, which we thought you might like to see.  You can download it here.

Categories: General

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21 Jul 7:57am

Hmmm….will have to have a good look at that. Just done a VERY quick skim look – first impressions: well-presented/professional-looking. First thought: the comment about flooding problems on that site – hmmm….that means any buildings put there had better be a design thats “up on stilts” then.

Graham Burnett
21 Jul 4:32pm

ATMOS – wasn’t that the gas the Sontarans were using to destroy the human race?

risa b
21 Jul 6:11pm

Very pretty. I look at plans for a living, all day long — archiving them here:

… and this one did hold my interest.

Seems a bit thin? The objectives don’t show up until page 12! Feels a like a glitzy wrapper, but not as much cheese as I’d hoped; and when will we see the Appendices?

What would have pulled me in: much more on-site-agriculture; beds all over the courtyards tended by students; grow tunnels and tilapia ponds sprinkled about, and … of course … the famous Chicken Greenhouse! 😉

21 Jul 9:38pm


the biggest employer in Luton is the airport, and in time we’ll need a similar conversation about what to do with Easyjet’s old offices and Ryanair’s hangars.

Mari Cruz Garcia
22 Jul 4:52pm

Good luck with that project!! While living in South Devon I also saw a lot of social exclusion and injustice. I hope that the ATOM project could be also use to support local people, such as farmers and shop keepers, to keep their lands and businesses, instead of becoming employees of Tesco or Morrison.

Chris Cook
26 Jul 3:17pm

Excellent plan.

But IMHO it might have a better chance of success if Dairy Crest actually invested the land rather than selling it, and a CIC were used purely as a custodian member of a Community Land Partnership framework.

The management company would become a managing partner, and the tenants become occupier partners.

It means you don’t have to buy the land, and Dairy Crest get a share of the development gains.

It’s a variation on CLTs but without the complexities and conflicts.