Rolle plan could boost economy by £6m-a-year

Rolle College, Exmouth. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 9254-18-12SH To order your copy of this photog

Rolle College, Exmouth. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 9254-18-12SH To order your copy of this photograph visit and click on myphotos24 - Credit: Archant

Community volunteers have sealed a deal to reopen part of the mothballed Rolle campus for the Exmouth Festival.

The agreement, between owners Plymouth University and not-for-profit company Rolle Exmouth Ltd (REL), will see the Owen Building used to stage an 18-show run of Jason and the Argonauts.

It is the first stage of a plan that could benefit the local economy to the tune of £6million-a-year, adjusted for inflation.

The Journal revealed last week that the campus would almost certainly reopen in May, seven years after it was closed, to host part of the festival .

Work is currently being carried out to ensure that the building and grounds are safe for public use.

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The Owen Building, with a 240- seat theatre, a 120-seat lecture/film theatre and five seminar rooms, was built in 2002 at a cost of £2.3million.

It closed, along with the rest of the campus, just six years later.

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Since then, REL has fought to keep the campus for the town.

The reopening will begin the process of bringing part of the old campus back into use as a community hub, with the rest sold off for housing.

Tim Bland, Exmouth Festival manager, said: “This project shows the strength of the arts in regenerating and reinterpreting spaces such as the Rolle Centre, and the festival is very grateful to REL and Plymouth University for enabling this event to take place.”

Deborah Hallett, chairman of REL, said: “The gates of the Rolle site will be open again and I hope the people of Exmouth will enjoy the productions and gain a sense for what the future Rolle Centre will offer.”

A spokesman for REL added: “The goal is that through providing the facilities, enabling people to develop their skills and knowledge and supporting the creation of new jobs, Exmouth and wider East Devon will feel the economic benefits, estimated at £5million per year at 2008 prices.”

Trevor Wills, director of estates at Plymouth University, said: “I hope this is the first step on the journey towards a positive future for the site.”

? See page 49 for festival news.

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