REL’s Vision.

Rolle Site

REL’s Vision: To improve skill and knowledge based career opportunities in Exmouth and east Devon

REL’s Mission:

  • To meet the immediate, identifiable and viable needs of the Exmouth and east Devon communities for education and vocational training, business incubation and support, and community facilities.


Our Interim Objectives are:

  • Raise awareness of REL’s vision and the Rolle site opportunity.
  • Encourage the local community to participate in the future of the Rolle Site debate and Plymouth University led public consultation process.
  • Occupy the Owen Building and begin the critical refurbishment, critical maintenance and re-commissioning work.
  • Launch a second share issue in Autumn 2015.
  • Expand and restructure the REL Board and establish a group of ‘critical friends’ to provide the necessary governance and capacity for REL to deliver its objectives.
  • Ensure that a pipeline of investments and grant funding is quantified and pursued.
  • Plan the research, experimentation and development (RED Project) to identify the optimum balance of facilities in the Owen Building and on the site.
  • Continue to negotiate disposal and transfer mechanisms with Plymouth University.
  • Identify potential opportunities to work with investors and developers to build a consortium to secure some or all of the site.


REL’s Purpose:

Closing Rolle College in 2008 cost the Exmouth economy around £5M a year, which has never been replaced. In 2010 demand from the local community led to the establishment of Rolle Exmouth Ltd. (REL), with the aim of securing part of the 7.1 acre campus, including a significant modern building (the Owen). Their objective in creating REL was to address the impact of the college closure by making a direct investment in education and business facilities. The intended outcome of their investment is to increase both the quality and the quantity of employment and vocational education opportunities available.

We will do this by creating facilities for small and growing businesses and by increasing the vocational educational provision for post-16s of all ages, hosted at the community owned Rolle Centre. REL will reinvest our profits in sustaining and growing our service provision and providing community facilities. We will promote and use Community Shares to fund our growth.

The Owen, is at the heart of our plans and is a ‘near immediately viable’ £3M public asset (1,786sq.m. opened in 2003, closed in 2008). Most immediately, we plan to acquire, refurbish and re-open office, performance and lecture theatre space in the building to operate as an income generating work-hub with commercial and community shared services. This facility, our business support services and our proposed project activity could be trading before the end of 2015. If it remains closed this winter it will be lost to the community forever.


Social/economic and/or environmental benefits for Exmouth and east Devon

By provision of the facilities and partnerships outlined, REL will help Exmouth and east Devon transform its economic and educational opportunities. We seek to develop more sustainable jobs, at higher incomes, for a more skilled workforce.

The economic impact was evaluated in ‘The case to invest’; published by REL in 2013, partially funded by East Devon District Council (EDDC), Devon County Council (DCC) and Exmouth Town Council (ETC). This provides detailed ward level analysis of economic and educational impact needs.

Since 2008, the date the campus finally closed, there has been a marked deterioration in economic and educational attainment in the immediately adjacent wards. REL & the Rolle Centre seek to address this. Our organisation was established with this purpose: To meet identifiable and viable needs of the Exmouth and East Devon communities for education/vocational training, business incubation/support and community purposes.


We aim to:

  • Address the dependency on low-productivity, low-skilled jobs, leading to wages at 70% of the national average and substantial commuting, mainly to Exeter at 11 miles distance.
  • Improve post-16 employment options, a lack of which has led to a rise of 81.4% in people aged 24 and under who claim Job Seekers’ Allowance since 2008, compared to the UK average of 56.1%.
  • Increase the vocational education options for school-leavers or adults. Currently over 20% of Exmouth residents over the age of 16 do not hold any formal qualifications.
  • Ensure retention and optimal re-use of 13,000Sqft of modern office building, opened in 2003 and largely closed from 2006. EDDC has identified a shortage of business service space and there are no flexible workspaces/hubs in the area, this is a constraint to increasing business growth and productivity.
  • Aggregate and disseminate the community’s knowledge and experience. There are no mechanisms in our town and region for peer learning and support.
  • Introduce longevity and sustainability to the local and regional business support facilities. The Exmouth Regeneration board, funded by EDDC, ETC and DCC was established because Exmouth needs investment to halt a slow but steady decline. It needs to strengthen its economy by expanding and diversifying community investment can facilitate this.
  • Bring together many, of the region’s economic, public sector and community partners to drive increased awareness of and participation in community investment.
  • Promote participation in Community shares as both a form of citizen participation and as a way of building autonomy into the community’s economic growth potential; creating a “community endowment” both financial and social.
  • Replace the town’s only community facility, which recently closed. The provision of space to hold meetings, concerts, exhibitions and performances will bring cohesion to community life in Exmouth.
  • We have commissioned an energy strategy survey to inform this work and the option for our facility to provide Heat & Power generation for the wider development.

With the support of the SAID Business School and their work on Impact Investment we have identified that a ‘theory of change model’ will provide a framework within which we can steer and measure the local community benefit achieved.


Phase 1 – a strategy of experimentation

Our diverse and widely experienced adaptive and growing team will conduct a series of controlled experimentation in keeping with global experience and best practice and research (as supported by Brooking, SAID, GiiN, NESTA) to create an innovation district (or village) within Exmouth and east Devon.

We believe it is vital to pursue the importance of both virtual (digital) and physical place-based business (delivery) approaches to deliver sustained regeneration.


Why this way?

  • The changing nature of enterprise – global, disruptive, personal
  • The work environment of 2040
  • Our rural, coastal location
  • Our demographics
  • The drive and sustainment derived from place based investment
  • Rolle, its history, tangible financial and emotional value to the community.