Group snaps up option to buy former Rolle College
A community has moved a step closer to turning a disused college into an educational hub.
Already, campaigners in Exmouth have raised £117,000 from community shareholders towards transforming the former Rolle College campus into a thriving community centre for education and recreation.
And now, Rolle Exmouth Ltd (REL), the group behind the bid, has negotiated the option to buy most of the site from owners the University of Plymouth.
The next steps are to secure more professional advice and to seek extra funding to help increase the pace of the project.
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REL wants to develop post-16 education, community arts and business support at the centre, to help boost the town's economic regeneration.
But the group needs to find around £2.5 million in funding to refurbish the building to the required standard.
Roy Pryke, chairman of REL said: "This is an exciting but complex project for the medium and long term, with major short term challenges. Those challenges have to be overcome or there will be no medium and long term for Rolle and a once-only opportunity will have been lost".
He continued: "All major change requires upfront investment.
"We now have to take the important next step of developing the investment plan which is required to draw in the necessary and substantial extra funding and also to carry out the planning activities for the subsequent programme of work. We are taking steps in the next few weeks to obtain the professional support that is now needed."
Mr Pryke is concerned that shareholders and supporters of the project will share REL's frustration about the pace of progress but said: "Authoritative sources have informed us that the position we are in is by no means unusual at this stage of a complex project. They recognise that we have established a solid framework around which a variety of funding sources can be attracted to make the necessary level of investment."
Shareholders have been reassured that the money they have contributed will not be spent until the next steps have been explained to them and they have had the opportunity to express their views.