Independent charity Devon Communities Together has announced the launch of a new trading arm, Constructing Futures Devon, which has been established to facilitate real life construction experience for local young people and provide new homes in Devon.

Devon Communities Together’s Chief Executive Elaine Cook (l) and Chairman Teresa Butchers (r) sign the funding agreement for Constructing Futures Devon to launch the new company.

Designed to be a sustainable social purpose business, Constructing Futures will purchase properties in need of major renovation, as well as new build sites, and construct quality homes to be sold on the open market. Profit will be reinvested into Constructing Futures as well as Devon Communities Together to fund its work in communities throughout Devon. Beginning in the Torbay and Teignbridge areas, Constructing Futures will initially partner with South Devon College, where students will be given the opportunity to work on the construction and renovation of the properties under the project management of college staff, as an off campus “real site” work experience opportunity. Each property will require a variety of trades to undertake a range of specialist activities, which will maximise learning opportunities and enhance the college’s full time learners’ programme of learning.

The sites will also support the skills gap at higher levels through increasing the opportunities for Level 3 apprenticeship frameworks. Currently there is a lack of local employers able to support the requirements for Level 3 students and Constructing Futures will work with employers to provide additional learning opportunities for their apprentices, supporting their progression to Level 3.

Although the initial phase of activity will be focused on South Devon, there are plans to expand Constructing Futures’ geographical reach in future phases to partner with other further education settings, including in Exeter and North Devon.

Constructing Futures is set up as a trading arm of registered charity Devon Communities Together, which, as the community council for Devon, is engaged in a wide range of projects and services to support communities to shape their own futures. Elaine Cook, Chief Executive of Devon Communities Together, said: “A lot of hard work has gone into the planning of this, so we’re delighted to be officially launching Constructing Futures. As a charity we’re committed to supporting the county’s young people and providing valuable learning opportunities. We also, through our community development work, have decades of experience in helping to identify housing needs in Devon and we’re acutely aware of the lack of good quality housing. It’s an issue that affects many communities and one that can lead to a decline in local facilities and services. Constructing Futures will not only provide local young people with opportunities to work on real construction projects with tangible end results, it will also deliver much needed new homes. Everything we do at Devon Communities Together is about helping communities to help themselves, and profit generated by the sale of these homes will be reinvested into our wide reaching community development work to support people all over Devon.”

South Devon College Principal Stephen Criddle commented: “As a college which leads the way in Construction Skills, South Devon College is delighted to be an early participant with Devon Communities Together in this innovative project, which will provide excellent new opportunities for this important area of our local economy, benefitting both local students and the local community.”

Constructing Futures is partly funded by £574,320 from the Heart of the South West LEP’s Growth Deal funding. The Heart of the South West LEP’s total Growth Deal is worth £598m; including £239m from Government and £359m match funding. Over the lifetime of the Growth Deal: 2015 – 2021; HotSW LEP estimates the investment will create up to 22,000 new jobs and 11,000 new homes. 

Chair of the Heart of the South West (HotSW) Local Enterprise Partnership, Steve Hindley CBE DL said: “The LEP is pleased to support this innovative project that will deliver real-life construction skills to young people, to help them take up rewarding careers in this important industry. The added benefit is that the project will generate new homes that further help the viability of local communities in the HotSW area, and any profits will be re-invested into the project. I look forward seeing this exciting new project progress.”

Local Growth Minister, Jake Berry, added: “Constructing Futures Devon is a great example of the kind of innovative projects Government Growth Deal funding has helped make possible. Our investment is supporting a social purpose business renovating old homes to go back on the open market while providing new jobs, apprenticeships and boosting the local economy.”