Around 60 new jobs, 22 business units, five new business hubs and three community spaces are now under starter’s orders, thanks to funding worth £1.275 million from the Council.
The hard-working members of the Four Greens Community Trust are today celebrating news that the Council’s Investment Board has approved funding to transform the former Whitleigh Care Home into a headquarters and a business centre for the trust.
Now that the finances have got the go-ahead, the formal procurement process will start, and lead to the empty building becoming a thriving centre for small businesses, creating up to 60 new jobs in an area which has traditionally suffered high levels of unemployment and lacked employment space.
The Four Greens Community Trust – which covers the areas of Ernesettle, Honicknowle, West Park and Manadon and Whitleigh – plan to get an income from letting small units, but there are also bigger plans for the building.
The trust has been in discussion with the ‘Whitleigh Big Local’ and the Council who are looking to base community and inter-related service facilities at the location.
The other parts of the building will provide new business start-up space alongside employment and training opportunities to help adults and young people learn new skills to help them on the road to employment.
Councillor Jon Taylor, ward member for Budshead, who is also on the FGCT Board, said: “This is a huge step. What is just an empty shell stands to get a new lease of life and help play a part in transforming lives in neighbourhoods which have suffered from high unemployment.”
Vince Burke, FGCT Board member leading on the design sub group said: “There has been a lot of enthusiasm both from the community and interested partners who have really helped define the specific character for this building and what it stands for.
“Having a new HQ will help turn around the fortunes of this part of Plymouth as well as encourage people to start businesses – it’s really exciting to see it all coming together.”
Last October 2014, the Council’s Cabinet gave the go-ahead for the former Council-owned building to be transferred to the trust and the Council awarded the FGCT £90,000 from its ground-breaking Social Enterprise Investment Fund to appoint a business development manager who will guide the strategic vision and business plan model for the FGCT.
Councillor Chris Penberthy, Cabinet Member for Co-operatives, Housing and Community Safety, said: “This whole project is about giving people the power to have more say in their lives and where they live.
“This administration has been very clear that it wanted to create an economic development trust for the north of Plymouth and open up opportunities and create a sense of confidence and a ‘go for it’ attitude.
“I wish the Four Greens Community Trust team great success as they start this new exciting stage of their work.”
This executive decision is expected to be signed off later this week and is subject to call in by scrutiny.