Rolle visit was a 'coincidence'

ATTEMPTS to view Rolle College for potential housing three days before a pledge to buy the campus for educational use 'was purely coincidental' say the district council.

ATTEMPTS to view Rolle College for potential housing three days before a pledge to buy the campus for educational use 'was purely coincidental' say the district council.After four years of delicate negotiations by a consortium, including Exmouth Community College and Exeter College, Devon County Council committed to buy the site.The facility was a teacher-training college for 70-years, until they were moved to Plymouth last summer.But Exmouth county councillor and member of EDDC's Task Group on Land Supply for Housing - who identify sites for development - Cllr Eileen Wragg said she was 'taken back' by efforts to view the site, three days before the county council voted.She was called by a district officer, asking for a contact, so the group could view the site.She said: "I thought that EDDC should have formally contacted the University of Plymouth and thought it quite inappropriate that an officer had been delegated to request access via an elected member."The next day she was contacted by Member Services at EDDC who were 'most surprised' she had been asked.On arrival, said Cllr Wragg, the group 'were politely told that they could view Rolle from the highway, but could not enter the buildings.'Cllr Wragg said the viewing concluded with a walk along the front of the campus with one committee member "suggesting 'that one block could be converted into 80 flats without it being demolished and rebuilt', which I thought was quite extraordinary. "Also, bearing in mind the calls on...(the county council) acquire Rolle for educational purposes, it seems that to run parallel with housing development smacked either of ignorance or double standards, or both."A spokesman for the district council said the Five Year Land Supply Assessment was a Government-required exercise to determine how much land may become available for housing over the next five years."In February this year, a Housing Land Supply Task and Finish Forum was established. One of the Forum's remits is to scrutinise the work ...identifying potential housing land in the district. "It was in this respect that members...went to see for themselves the sites specifically referred to in the Five Year Land Supply Assessment/Annual Monitoring Report. "They visited sites across East Devon..."In Exmouth, the Rolle College site and a number of buildings and land areas owned by the university have potential scope for residential redevelopment purposes. "The officer conducting the visits felt that access to the main campus site at Rolle College might be difficult and therefore approached Councillor Eileen Wragg..."The Task and Finish Forum dates had been in members' diaries for some time, so it was purely coincidental that they happened to take place a short time before Devon County Council's executive board on Thursday 23 April.

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