The Opportunity

Opportunity. Keyboard

What if?

…we developed the site as a community led and funded regeneration project?

…we built and led a consortium of developers and investors to secure and develop the whole site as a very special place.

…every adult in East Devon invested directly in a Community Business?

…Community Businesses were high growth, knowledge intensive businesses?

…a community Business could be a Community Corporation?

What if we don’t do this?

  • Real estate versus Real people.
  • Commuters or community.
  • Narrowly understood financial return versus compounding social and economic impact.


The Exmouth and east Devon Community

Exmouth and east Devon is an isolated coastal and rural location with a town-based population of 35,000, rising to 48,000 including the outlying villages. Closure of the Rolle College Campus in 2008 devastated the town, removing £5M annually from the economy.

  • By 2024 the 65+ age groups are expected to reach 33.1% of the population, current average age 46.9 (national average 39.4).
  • Our three immediate neighbouring wards are in the bottom 40% of deprived wards in the UK with a significantly higher rate of teen conception rates.
  • Compared to Devon: Youth offending team clients at 9.9 per 1000, 3 times the average; recognised children in need (369 per 10,000) is the second highest; alcohol related crime places us in the worst 4 towns out of 30.

Exmouth has one of the largest schools in Europe for the 11-19 age groups (approaching 3000 pupils) and yet there are limited post-16 education, apprentice and/or employment opportunities.

  • The proportion of 16 year olds achieving GCSEs is high, but the level progressing to NVQ level 4 is low; our young people are stalling.
  • Our LEP area is 36th out of 39 in terms of educating and training the working population and 32nd for the proportion of the workforce in knowledge-based professions.
  • The proportion of self-employed is high (9.2% to national average of 7.53%).
  • Local SME fail to grow even enough to reach the turnover levels required for VAT registration.
  • Few employers take advantage of the opportunities arising from the proximity of The University of Exeter (Russell Group) and a major teaching hospital.
  • East Devon is in the bottom 20% of districts in the UK for active enterprises per head of population.

Without further education and business investment, the reason community volunteers established REL, the next generation will always be earning below the UK average.