Torbay Rooute Project falls victim to political prevarication

11 OCT 2013

It is with regret that we confirm the proposed Torbay Rooute Centre will not go ahead. Torbay Council has not granted Chapter 1’s request for a longer lease on the land and, without this agreement, it is no longer a viable investment for us.

This is a sad day for us.  When we unveiled the plans in 2010 we were confident we could deliver an innovative and vibrant community enterprise facility which would have benefitted the people of Torbay.

 It was a long term project, underscoring our deep commitment to Torbay and our confidence in its future.  Chapter 1 was prepared to make a significant investment from its own resources - £1.5M, more than half the estimated total cost of the scheme.  In return we asked the council for a longer lease on the site of just 40 years, instead of the 21 years first agreed when we had only been asked to invest £500K.

 Time was of the essence as the ERDF funding of £500K for the project required the building to be completed by March 2015. The council knew of these obligations and we expected a decision on our request by the end of July.  We finally received an answer yesterday, 8 October.

 Since its original conception, the project has been beset hold-ups and delays against a background of deepening economic recession, including: 

  • The change of site from Temperance Street which had significant aborted costs attached to it;
  • The dithering by the council over the CCTV control centre and whether it would be part of the Rooute Centre;
  • An unexpected and late decision by the council to withdraw an investment facility of £12M for Chapter 1 with further aborted costs, and the subsequent increase in the cost of financing the scheme.

 Throughout all of this we remained committed to the project but in the end time ran out. Over the next few weeks we shall be vacating the site in Lymington Road and returning it to the council in accordance with our agreement.

 However, we would like to emphasise that this decision in no way impacts on any of our other projects in the area. Both Chapter 1 and Shekinah remain committed to our work in the community, to the many local organisations who help us deliver our services, and above all to the people of Torbay.

Geoff Hawkins, Chief Executive, Chapter 1 and John Hamblin, Chief Executive, Shekinah Mission