Plan for new HQ for trust submitted

A planning application to transform an empty care home into a thriving business centre that will open up opportunities for people in north Plymouth has been submitted.

The Four Greens Community Trust has submitted an application to turn the former Whitleigh Care Home into its headquarters and a business centre for up to 22 business units, five business incubator hubs and three community spaces.

If the plans get the go-head, the £1 million facelift will not only help the empty building become a focus for the community, but it will lead to at least 60 new jobs in an area which has traditionally suffered high levels of unemployment and lacked employment space.

The newly-formed Four Greens Community Trust – which covers the areas of Whitleigh, Ernesettle, Honicknowle, West Park and Manadon – plan to get an income from letting small units, but there are also bigger plans for the building.

The trust is already in discussion with organisations such as the Whitleigh Big Local who are looking to base community and service facilities. Other ideas involve helping adults to learn new skills and engage with wider members of the community.

The trust is also hoping the HQ can be used for advice and training sessions for adults and young people to help them on the road to employment.

Councillor Jon Taylor, ward member for Budshead, who is also on the trust 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.”

David Vear, Chair of the trust added: “There is a lot of enthusiasm in the community for the trust and what it stands for. Having a new HQ to 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 year, the Council’s Cabinet gave the go-ahead for the former Council-owned building to be transferred to the trust and the Council award the trust £90,000 from its ground-breaking Social Enterprise Investment Fund to appoint a business development manager and put together a business plan model for the trust.

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 am pleased that the local community have worked with us and are making our ambition their reality.”