Rolle purchase - a big challenge

PUBLISHED: 15:17 20 November 2009 | UPDATED: 12:21 10 June 2010

ROLLE College will not be put on the open market until after Christmas - but time is running out if the site is to be purchased for community use.

ROLLE College will not be put on the open market until after Christmas - but time is running out if the site is to be purchased for community use.

A cross party delegation of councillors, community college governors and community groups met with property advisers GVA Grimley and Plymouth University property director Martin Berkin last week.

Stakeholders want to purchase part of the Douglas Avenue site to use as a post-16 college, adult training centre and for community use.

It follows the town council's Task and Finish Forum being given a clear mandate to 'investigate all possibilities' leading to the acquisition of the site.

Possible uses also being mooted include exhibitions, conferences, and arts, theatre and community groups.

Town clerk John Wokersien was part of the delegation and said the talks were 'very informative' and added: "They are looking at putting Rolle College on the market in the New Year and will be putting it out to tender.

"It gives us a little bit of breathing space, but not much. It's a huge challenge for the community of Exmouth

"We are working on a solution."

The meeting, he said, was a 'fact finding' mission - and now they have a better idea of the possible values of the buildings and which buildings could be on offer.

A possible solution, he said, was that if developers did buy the site for housing, they could then negotiate with them directly.

Rolle College was gifted to Exmouth - but, in the 1980s, the same Government legislation that transformed polytechnics into university's also led to Rolle College's property rights being transferred to Plymouth University.

If developers do build on the land, it could be construed as a loss of community facilities and, therefore, developers maybe obliged to 'compensate' the community through a Section 106 agreement.

East Devon District Council could then seek to ensure part of the site - or a building - be used for community and educational use at the expense of the developer.

Mayor Darryl Nicholas said: "We want to explore every avenue.

"Our main aim is to retain the site for educational and community use.

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