Business views sought on Rolle

The entrance to the Owen Building. Ref exe 10-16SH 6921. Picture: Simon Horn

The entrance to the Owen Building. Ref exe 10-16SH 6921. Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

Companies are being urged to have their say on how they want to develop a potential new business hub and resource at Exmouth’s former Rolle College site.

With its auditorium space, lecture theatre, central atrium, seminar and meeting rooms, the site’s Owen Building could become a key asset for local businesses, according to Rolle Exmouth Limited (REL), the community group working to develop and secure the site for Exmouth and East Devon to use for a range of vocational education and training, economic regeneration and community uses alongside housing.

A survey of businesses in Exmouth and East Devon has launched today, asking how they think the site could best benefit local businesses, ranging from established firms and business networks to start-ups, entrepreneurs, collaborations and one-off events.

The survey comes as REL also prepares to launch a national fundraising campaign, hoping to secure the wider Rolle College campus, listed for sale by Plymouth University, for the good of Exmouth and East Devon.

The university has already granted REL a licence for the Owen Building, and, backed by its 722 shareholders, REL has outlined initial plans for this building, which the university has pledged to make available for community use.

Initial plans include a work hub, hot-desk and meeting facilities, space for post-16 education and vocational training, space for events, exhibitions, theatre and performances, and a café.

With community groups and other organisations starting to make use of parts of the building that are already available, REL chairman Deborah Hallett is urging businesses to get involved.

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She said: “We have some outline ideas, including developing a vibrant work hub and flexible space for businesses, but the best ideas will come from the business community itself. That’s why we’re urging people to tell us what they think.”

Ian MacQueen, chairman of Exmouth Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said: “It is vitally important that businesses take this opportunity to have their say.

“We have a wonderful opportunity to develop a facility and resource to serve the Exmouth and East Devon business community for many years to come.”

A new community share issue is helping to raise funds, which can then be used as matched-funding for grants, to buy, fully refurbish and re-open the whole Owen Building.

Money raised will also support the first two years of trading and the promotion of further fundraising to secure additional areas of the site and extensions to the Owen Building facilities.

Talks continue between REL and the university over the transfer of the Owen Building upon satisfactory receipt of planning approval for the whole site.

To take part in the survey, go to For a copy of the share issue prospectus, email

The launch of the national fundraising campaign will be at the Owen Building on April 5, at 11am.

The campaign will feature the premiere of Waste of Space, a short film staring three Devon-based actors and shot at the Owen Building, along with advertisements and posters of local young people seeking educational opportunities in the town, all backed with extensive media and social media activity.

Ms Hallett said: “We hope that people will be inspired by the Waste of Space campaign and get involved, be that by pledging support, buying community shares, becoming a volunteer, or telling us how they think the site should be developed.”

People can secure a free ticket for the launch and premiere by visiting