The cost of recommissioning Rolle College so it can be transformed into a community hub has increased five-fold - to an estimated £2.5million.

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But Roy Pryke, the chairman of Rolle Exmouth Limited (REL), a not-for-profit company set up by residents, is still confident that the financial gap can be bridged.

Today (Thursday) he will give a presentation to district council bosses in a bid to get their support.

However, if the money cannot be raised, the project to transform the former teacher training college into a community, education and business hub, could end before Christmas.

An upbeat Mr Pryke said: “Authoritative sources have informed us that the position we are in is by no means unusual at this stage of a complex project.

“They recognise that we have established a solid framework around which a variety of funding sources can be attracted to make the necessary level of investment.”

Currently REL is locked in discussions with ‘various sources’ to obtain the funding.

It follows the results of a detailed survey of the four-acre site and its three main buildings, commissioned by REL.

The survey revealed that the deterioration of the buildings was worse than initially thought - and the cost of repairs could be almost as much as the purchase price.

They had been waiting for the results of the survey so they could sign the £3million deal with owners Plymouth University to rent and then buy the site.

A share issue last spring raised £117,000, which would have been used to start recommissioning the buildings in stages.

The plan was that rent accrued from each building would have helped pay for the next stage.

But now the directors say that they are unwilling to gamble with the community’s money until they can secure another source of funding. REL managing director Roger Staker said: “An investment of approximately £2.5million is required before the revenue flow can be established to make the business plan work.

“The problem is not of our making.

“Simply put, the current state of the buildings means that they are a long way from being useable.

“We are up against it. There is no disguising that.”

Mr Pryke said: “This is an exciting but complex project for the medium and long term, with major short-term challenges.

“Those challenges have to be overcome or there will be no medium and long term for Rolle and a once-only opportunity will have been lost.”

He continued: “We now have to take the important next step of developing the investment plan, which is required to draw in the necessary and substantial extra funding.

“We are taking steps in the next few weeks to obtain the professional support that is now needed.”

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