Rolle fields for houses?

RESIDENTS in The Avenues were left shocked this week when they found out that Rolle College s playing fields had been sold to developers Eagle One.

RESIDENTS in The Avenues were left shocked this week when they found out that Rolle College's playing fields had been sold to developers Eagle One.

The three-acre playing fields were owned by Plymouth University, which closed the college.

Residents found out about the sale - to the developers behind Exmouth Marina - following a letter penned by Chris Mayhead, the university's learning facilities manager.

The letter to residents living close to the now-defunct college said that, from August 10, all enquiries about the fields should be directed to the new owners.

It was only in April, Devon County Council pledged to help acquire the campus and land, prompting a feasibility study.

A group, including Exmouth Community College chairman of governors Liz Lee, principal Tony Alexander, Exeter College and MP Hugo Swire, had worked behind the scenes to try to secure the site as a post 16 education centre.

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And at one point it was suggested the playing fields could be made available to relocate The Beacon Primary School.

However, the sale has seemingly pre-empted the release of the feasibility study, which is not expected to be debated by county councillors until next month.

Resident Yvonne Wardrop, of Douglas Avenue, said: "I am dismayed to hear from our management company that Plymouth University has sold the playing fields.

"Councillors are unaware, so what is going on? My belief was that the area was designated for leisure pursuits."

Jack Savage, of Douglas Avenue, said: "I was absolutely shocked. We had seen some people looking at the area, but this has come out of the blue.

"We assumed that, if the fields were sold, it would be with the rest of Rolle College."

Pat Attard, the chairman of Save Avenues from Despoliation, said the fields were protected as open space, so only limited development of the site to 'enhance open space provision' would currently be allowed.

She said: "The area is designated as amenity space and has been used as playing fields for a long time, therefore there are Government strictures placed upon them.

"The fear is that the area we have been assured for years by the Local Plan and East Devon District Council is unsuitable for development has now been sold to developers.

"We feel there is no need for immediate alarm, but they are developers and they build houses - why would they want to buy it if wasn't for development?

"They would not have bought it without having an idea of how they were going to get around the obstacles."

Plymouth University and Eagle One had not commented at the time of going to press.