Council ‘concerned’ at Rolle College announcement

The entrance to the Owen Building. Ref exe 10-16SH 6925. Picture: Simon Horn

The entrance to the Owen Building. Ref exe 10-16SH 6925. Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

District bosses say they were surprised to hear that Exeter Deaf Academy is to take over Exmouth’s Rolle College site.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) said it was keen to learn more about the proposals, which it said it first heard about through the media.

The council has previously given its backing to community benefit society Rolle Exmouth Ltd (REL), which has been working to secure some or all of the site for community use.

An EDDC spokesperson said: “This is an important opportunity for the site and the town, so we are concerned and disappointed that Plymouth University has only made known this change of plans through the media without engagement with those who have put their hard work and best intentions into developing valuable and viable uses for parts of the site.”

Councillor Phil Skinner, chairman of EDDC’s Exmouth Regeneration Board, said: “The council has been a long time supporter of REL and their plans for the use of the Owen Building and wider space on the former college site.

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“The new direction for the site involving the deaf academy adds a dimension that we want to understand better.

“The council has supported REL’s long running plans for part of the site and we will hold a working group to have a dialogue with the academy, REL and interested parties as appropriate to explore the opportunities and implications that arise from this announcement.”

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The council’s spokesperson added: “This is an evolving situation and the council will be expecting further information to be made known especially by Plymouth University.

“We presume that there will also be a revised planning process to get underway between the applicant and the planning authority.”

Exeter Deaf Academy announced on Thursday that it has exchanged contracts to take over the site, which was vacated by Plymouth University in 2008.

The academy plans a ‘world class’ facility for deaf young people between the ages of four and 24.

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