Don’t throw away Rolle buildings

I cannot agree with your correspondent in last week’s Journal who suggested on your letters page that the Rolle College buildings were unfit for purpose, should be knocked down and the site made over wholly to social housing.

Until its closure in 2008, the Rolle buildings were used daily and very successfully by Plymouth University higher education students. The university closed Rolle because of its policy to locate all its students to the main campus in Plymouth.

This policy had nothing to do with the state of the Rolle buildings. Indeed, the Owen building was completed in only 2002, taking �2.1m of taxpayers’ money. It would be the ultimate expression of a throw away society if buildings were razed to the ground just because they were redundant to one user. We may think our library is too small, but let’s remember that it is housed in what was once a primary school.

Of course, the needs for social housing must be met. But, unless we want to become a dormitory suburb of Exeter, we also need to think about where residents are going to work.

The closing of Rolle has cost Exmouth some �5 million per year in lost revenue. Exmouth lacks infrastructure and, as the recent closure of the job centre shows, this process is continuing, as does the front page of last week’s Exmouth Journal about the loss of Connexion, a vital resource for our young people.

It has been estimated that it would cost �9m to replicate the Rolle Owen building, Daw and the administration block, which with their surrounding land would provide excellent facilities for post-16 education to enable our young people to be educated locally, whether they wanted vocational or academic education.

It could provide for the training needs of adults and small businesses to help their development as well as much-needed office and workshop accommodation within walking distance of the town centre. It has ideal facilities for exhibitions, meetings and conferences.

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Despite the size of the population of Exmouth, the town has no central intergenerational community centre and the Rolle site, which is on four bus routes and has car parking, would be ideal for this purpose.

Exmouth is bordered by the estuary, sea and areas of outstanding natural beauty so the use of available land must be considered carefully to achieve the best possible outcome for the future prosperity of the town and well being of its residents.

Rolle is a prime site close to the sea. Do we really believe that, if the buildings are knocked down for residential development, it will be for social housing and how will extra housing on its own contribute to the regeneration of Exmouth and bring additional employment?

Jenny Budden,

Cranford Avenue, Exmouth.

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