The Challenge

How can we breathe new life into a redundant landmark building, to not only refurbish and reopen it, but find a sustainable business model to keep it alive for years to come?

£1.75 million



Plymouth, Devon


2009 – Present


Office of the Third Sector’s Community Asset programme, Plymouth City Council, Devonport Regeneration Community Partnership (DRCP)

Devonport Guildhall and Column logo

The RIO solution 

RIO acquired the near derelict Grade I listed Devonport Guildhall in 2007 and quickly set about securing the funding required to turn the dream of creating a social enterprise hub into a reality.

We were successful in securing a grant of £1.75million from the Government’s Community Assets Fund and with help and support from Plymouth City Council and the former DRCP, RIO refurbished the Guildhall and reopened to the public in 2010 as a social enterprise hub and community venue.

Devonport Guildhall is now home to a number of successful social enterprises and is also the head office for RIO. As well as providing offices for social enterprise, the Guildhall serves the community as a venue for conferences, events, weddings and entertainment. In 2013 RIO opened Column Bakehouse – a hugely successful artisan bakery – in the Guildhall’s former mortuary, and refurbished and reopened Devonport Column as a visitor attraction.

Find out more about Devonport Guildhall here

Stats and Facts

  • Grade I listed building
  • £1.75 million investment
  • Home to six social businesses
  • 35,000 visitors per year
  • Created and sustains six jobs
  • Devonport Column now a visitor attraction
How The Project Was Received