A former care home in north Plymouth is to get a new lease of life as a thriving headquarters for the new Four Greens Community Trust, heralding a new era of enterprise and opportunity for people in Whitleigh, Ernesettle, Honicknowle, West Park and Manadon.
The empty care home is to be transformed into a business centre with the potential to house 24 business units and five incubator business hubs, paving the way for 65 new jobs.
It is hoped that the transformed building will act as a catalyst to transform lives in neighbourhoods which have traditionally been areas of high unemployment and low levels of business start-ups.
Plymouth’s Cabinet is expected to give the go-ahead to the formal transfer of the Council-owned building to the trust when they meet on 21 October.
This will also pave the way for a £1 million facelift for the building to make it ready for its new life as a focus for the community as well as new business.
The newly-formed Four Greens Community Trust already has strong plans for the building which will act as their headquarters. As well as getting an income from letting small units, the building will:
- Become a base for Whitleigh Big Local for community facilities such as a crèche, activities for kids and young people.
- Have a media/music/radio space for young people and adults to learn new skills and engage with wider members of the community
- Enable the trust to support and give advice and training sessions to adults and young people to help on the road to employment
- Enable members of the trust to support new and fledgling business, offering hands-on support as well as providing workspace
The news comes just as the Council has decided to award the trust £90,000 from its ground-breaking Social Enterprise Investment Fund towards appointing a business development manager and putting together a business case.
Dave Vear, Chair of the FGCT said: “We are really excited that here is a project we can get our teeth into and start the necessary groundwork for exploring a whole raft of enterprise activities that will engage the wider community in the years to come.”
Councillor Chris Penberthy, Cabinet Member for Co-operatives, Housing and Community Safety, said: “From a germ of an idea about encouraging business and skills development in these neighbourhoods, we are now at the point where we have a building, a trust with over 100 members committed to making this happen, and the promise of support for a business development manager to help steer the trust on its journey. This is quite a phenomenal milestone.
“Part of the Council’s Cooperative agenda is giving control to people so that they have more say in their lives and can influence what happens where they live.
“This was one of the key pledges of this administration – to begin the process of creating an economic development trust for the north of Plymouth. I’m delighted we have come so far.”
Councillor Jon Taylor, ward councillor for Budshead, who is also on the trust, added: “We’ve seen what has been achieved in Stonehouse and North Prospect by the Millfields Trust and Wolseley Trust and this has served as inspiration for our community to create its own unique vision through the FGCT.”
Cabinet is being asked to approve the transfer of the building to the trust by way of a lease for 35 years as well as note the combination of revenue support being proposed for the trust.
Officers have been authorised to work up a full business case and tender for a capital allocation of £1 million which is expected to be put before the Council Investment Board next year.