Totnes breweries unite to oppose local development project

By James Beeson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Joined in support: (l-r) Gary of Totnes Brewing Company, Barnaby of Barnaby’s Brewhouse, Mat of New Lion Brewery and George of Bridgetown Brewery
Joined in support: (l-r) Gary of Totnes Brewing Company, Barnaby of Barnaby’s Brewhouse, Mat of New Lion Brewery and George of Bridgetown Brewery

Related tags: Beer, Brewing

Four Devon breweries have collaborated on a beer to support opposition to a proposed development project in the village of Darlington, near Totnes.

The beer, Brimhay Beer, 'an imaginative pale ale’, has been made by the four breweries in the Totnes area: New Lion Brewery, Totnes Brewing Company, Bridgetown Brewery and Barnaby’s Brewhouse, and will be on sale in the breweries’ bars and at venues across the town.

The project is inspired by the story of Coule Pas Chez Nous, a citizen-led protest movement formed in opposition to a proposed oil pipeline in Quebec, Canada, in which 28 breweries along the route came together to create a beer to express their objection to the project, which was subsequently dropped. 

The story of South Devon Rural Housing Association’s (SDRHA) proposed development at Brimhay, Dartington, and local people’s sustained and highly creative opposition to it, has been ongoing for more than three years.

SDRHA submitted its initial proposals for the redevelopment of Brimhay, a community of social homes and communal gardens, in January 2015. However, local residents were disappointed by the urban style of the development, the clearing of a wildlife area and removal of 93% of the site’s trees. 

Community opposition

South Hams District Council (SHDC) approved planning permission, but the community brought a successful judicial review in July 2016 which quashed the permission. SDRHA subsequently resubmitted, and were granted a planning approval for a slightly amended scheme. Last month, work to start clearing the site was met with further opposition and a new judicial review launched by the community.

The local group has also submitted its own proposals based on extensive consultation, but the SDRHA say these are not financially viable.

Speaking about the inspiration for the beer, New Lion Brewery’s head brewer Mat Henney said: “What inspired us most about Brimhay is that rather than just saying no, the community of Dartington and their parish council have done something really quite remarkable.

“They came together, hired their own designer, consulted the community, designed an alternative scheme which respects wildlife, is sustainable and beautiful, and then took it all the way through the planning process, and still​ they are being ignored.

“We felt, as brewers who stand for craft, community, good taste and enhancing the local economy, that it was time we creatively voiced our support."

'No social licence'

Sarah Kidd of Totnes Brewing Company added: “As brewers, we have to abide by licencing laws to do what we do. It struck us that although SDRHA is acting within the letter of the law, it clearly has no social licence for what it's doing at Brimhay, and that really matters.

“This is an unprecedented coming together of the four Totnes breweries in support of an unprecedented community response. SDRHA has a way to go instantly from villain to hero overnight, on the table, with full planning permission.”

The breweries hope that the beer will bring the focus back to the community’s redesign and are offering to broker a dialogue between the two sides to see how the community’s scheme can be moved forward.

The Morning Advertiser ​contacted SHRHA for comment, but had not received a response at the time of publication. 

Related topics: Beer

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