Campaigners say Rolle can still be saved for community

PUBLISHED: 15:53 28 June 2010 | UPDATED: 15:57 28 June 2010

CAMPAIGNERS insist that Rolle College can still be secured for educational and community use despite a developer wanting to build retirement flats.

Last week Retirement Life Ltd and Michael Thorne Construction Ltd said they had ‘reached an agreement’ to build a £100m retirement complex on the Douglas Avenue site.

But Retirement Life MD John Richardson said despite the vocational courses planned, it was ‘unlikely’ they would accommodate post-16 students at Exmouth Community College – a key aim of campaigners.

Rolle Exmouth Ltd is a social enterprise company created by residents, councillors and local interest groups to ensure that the public buildings are retained for community use - and Mr Richardson has been accused of jumping the gun with last week’s announcement.

Roy Pryke of Rolle Exmouth Ltd said they had a ‘clear remit’ to secure a large part of the site for education, training, small businesses and community use and the site’s owner, The University of Plymouth, were yet to make a decision.

He added they had been in talks with many bidders up to the deadline on May 27 and he added they were ‘cautiously optimistic’ that their goal was achievable.

He said “Our strategy has been to discuss with potential bidders for the site terms which will provide us with the opportunity to purchase part of the site or, failing that, to have a very long term lease so that the broad community objectives can be met with certainty.

“We (have) met a number of bidders …including Retirement Life Ltd (and)…we are all now waiting for the decision of the University of Plymouth.”

He said their goal was that the University would sell the site to a developer who was ready to make it possible for the ‘vision to become a reality.’

He added: “We have met a spectrum of potential developers.

“At one end are some in complete accord with us; at the other end are those interested only in clearing the complete site and building houses or flats.

“Other potential developers are ready to accommodate part of our plans, but not the full package.

“As Mr Richardson himself acknowledges, his proposal would not allow for the use of Rolle College for the wide range of post-16 education and training - a key issue for Exmouth.”