Group ‘delighted’ as keys handed over for Rolle College building

Exmouth Mayor Maddie Chapman and chairman of Rolle Exmouth Ltd Deborah Hallett opening the gates to

Exmouth Mayor Maddie Chapman and chairman of Rolle Exmouth Ltd Deborah Hallett opening the gates to Rolle College with Roy Pryke,Mike Green and Mike Tracey. Ref exe 3645-39-15TI. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Part of the Rolle College site has finally been handed over to the people of Exmouth, seven years after the former Plymouth University campus closed.

Community benefit society Rolle Exmouth Limited (REL) has signed a licence with the university, on behalf of the Exmouth community, granting them the right to use the site’s Owen Building.

This means REL and local groups can access and start to use the building, which REL says is as a ‘major step’ in reinvigorating the site.

Mayor of Exmouth Maddie Chapman received the keys on the steps of the Owen Building this week. She said: “This is more than just a symbolic moment. This facility has a long history of providing top-quality education for the people of Exmouth. But what is now tremendously exciting is that REL and the local community are rallying around an exciting vision of reinvigoration, looking at our education, business and community needs.”

The Owen Building hand-over comes just days after Plymouth University announced a consultation on using the rest of the Rolle College site for housing.

REL hopes that a strong public response to that consultation could lead to more of the site being made available for community use.

It now intends to set up an office, and will also step up its fundraising efforts, to be able to reopen the whole Owen Building, alongside forging a consortium to purchase some or all of the site for a range of education, business and community uses.

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REL chairman Deborah Hallett said: “We are delighted to have signed a licence with Plymouth University. For too long, this wonderful asset has sat abandoned in the heart of Exmouth.

“We are going to need to work hard and fast. We want to help ensure community groups can start using some of the space as quickly as possible, but there’s a big backlog of maintenance work and repairs needed.”

Plymouth University’s initial consultation on the site will be at Ocean on The Esplanade on October 2 and October 3, and online at from October 2 to October 11.

REL is urging people to have their say on what they would like to see happen.

Roy Pryke, REL deputy chairman, said: “Negotiations with Plymouth University continue. The talks are focusing on the potential transfer of key parts of the site to REL and the community, as a community benefit development offset.

“The immediate priority is encouraging as many people as possible to have their say in the consultation.”