Rolle on

Exmouth’s new community, education and business hub - The Rolle Centre - will open for business in a matter of months.

Against all the odds, a two-year battle, to save ‘the best bit’ of the former Rolle College campus from developers and retain it for Exmouth, has been all but won.

With lawyers of owners Plymouth University and Rolle Exmouth Limited (REL) poised to sign on the dotted line yesterday afternoon (Wednesday), the first buildings are predicted to be available for use early in the New Year.

For REL, a not-for-profit social enterprise company created by Exmouth residents, it has been a long battle after the college was closed in 2008 and county chiefs reneged on a promise to buy the site for use by the community college.

Since then, suggestions for the site have come thick and fast, with ideas ranging from an ‘academy of excellence’ for the hospitality and tourism industry, suggested by MP Hugo Swire, to a reference library.

But now, with lease and final purchase terms in 2014 finalised, the vision, which seemed to some as pie-in-the-sky, is set to be realised.

REL chairman Roy Pryke revealed, at a recent meeting of Avenues’ residents group TARA, that they were holding talks with Exmouth Community College, De Vere Academy of Hospitality and Devon County Council.

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De Vere Academy of Hospitality trains 3,000 people in the tourism sector each year and is set to expand its operation into Exmouth.

And a list of 16 local interested businesses has been drawn up, as well as a host of organisations interested in community activities, conferences, theatrical performances, concerts and exhibitions coming forward.

Within weeks, residents will be able to buy shares at �5 each to have their own personal stake in the project

Mr Pryke said: “The final legal agreement is being worked out this afternoon (Wednesday).

“We hope that the first buildings will be occupied by early next year.

“The property will become available for use - building by building - during the course of the first year.”

MP Hugo Swire said: “It is fantastic news. This is an example of how a community can come together and insist on retaining a facility for the good of the community.”