Yes, progress it is. Thanks to the co-operation and help of the new
owners, Matt and Sarah Allen, we now have the possibility of restoring a
shop to our village.
After a visit to the old shop by an architect, we were dismayed to
realise how much needed to be done, in today’s environment, to rebuild
it to allow us to use it as a shop. Over the years many alterations
have been made and we would have virtually to pull it all down and start
again. The architect estimated that the total cost could run to
£200,000. So we had to think again.
We then looked at the site of the garage between the shop and the
footpath. If we are allowed to pull this down, we could put a purpose
built shop on an uncluttered site - and it would cost us much less. If
built in timber, about £100,000, we are told. Matt and Sarah then
kindly offered the village a lease on the land of at least twenty years,
if it all works out, at a small initial ground rent.
So that is the current plan and at long last we are co-operating to see
if we can achieve it. All this and much more was discussed at the
village meeting held on 26 September in the village hall.
More than a hundred villagers came to this meeting which heard Jane
Barker, ORCC (Oxfordshire Rural Community Council) Village Shop
Development Worker, tell us about the practicalities of starting and
running village shops. Graham Steinsberg, the chairman of the Radley
Community Village Shop, then gave us an upbeat blow by blow account of
their experiences. Celia Collett detailed the amazingly supportive
feedback we had received from the village questionnaire and outlined the
current planning situation. David Dobbin explained the location and the
design of the currently proposed shop and Jim Sanger outlined the
costs, trading projections and funding needs.
A show of hands indicated unanimous support to proceed to the next stage
of restoring a shop to the village and so we now move on to the
investigation and planning stages.
What are the next steps?
The Parish Council agreed at their meeting in October that a small
Steering Group should be set up to oversee the next steps. This will
concentrate on four areas, each of which will be represented by a member
of the Steering Group : planning applications (Celia Collett - 01491
835988), funding and finance (David Dobbin - 01491 835890), the
organisation of volunteers to work in the shop and its running (Corinne
Jones - 01491 836686) and, lastly but importantly, the building itself
(Phil Jones - 01491 836686). Jim Sanger (01491 833655) has agreed to
chair the Steering Group and has said that he would also help with the
funding and finance.
A number of eager volunteers have already come forward to join these
working groups and we are looking out for more; so, if any reader would
like to join the merry band they would be extremely welcome. Do please
contact the individuals mentioned. We will be spending the next three
to five months developing the plans and costing the details in each of
these areas and we can promise good debate, good company and the
occasional glass of wine to speed the brain!
We need to know that you agree
We will be reporting back on our progress, both by further village
meetings and through the pages of The Villager. You will also be
contacted by the working groups - not least on fundraising and
volunteers to work in the shop. We need to know that we are on the
right track so do let us know of any opportunities or if you think that
we are going awry. This is a first step in a longish march but at least,
after all the hard effort of five years, we are moving at last!