Villagers apply to build community shop

Chittlehamholt goes a step closer to replacing its decommissioned Post Office

A NORTH Devon village that lost its Post Office as part of a national closure plan hopes to build its own community shop.

Chittlehamholt Village Shop Association has applied to North Devon Council for permission to erect a replacement shop on farmland to the south of the parish hall.

Chairman Ron Thorne said the village’s Post Office closed in 2009 and people had to drive four miles to the nearest alternative at Chittlehampton.

“This will be more than just a shop to a community like this,” he said. “There is nothing else in the village and this will be a focal point for people – somewhere to engage in what we term ‘social welfare networking’.”

Mr Thorne said the new shop would cost somewhere in the region of �100,000 to get up and running but the association had already been told the project was eligible for European funding.

The move has received “overwhelming” local support from villagers, who have already contributed �7,000 towards the project. A further 140 have also bought shares in the scheme.

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A questionnaire sent to some 400 homes in Chittlehamholt, Warkleigh and Satterleigh showed 80 per cent wanted and would support a shop, with 60 per cent wanting posting facilities.

There was also a strong demand for groceries, stationary and bakery products and 20 people have volunteered to work in the shop.

The Post Office has agreed to designate the proposed shop as a Post Point allowing daily mail collections by the Royal Mail.

“The shop will be run by the people for the people,” added Mr Thorne. “It will be very much a response service and tailored to what people actually want.”

Some 250 community-run shops have been set up around the country, with schemes in Berrynarbor, Exbourne, Sheepwash and Welcome already proving popular.

The proposed building would be constructed from sustainable materials and heavily insulated and the applicant estimates that the shop will save 20 tonnes of CO2 emissions. The new facility would share a car park with the hall.

A design and access statement said: “The background research into the viability of the proposed Community Shop coupled with the Post Point facility should allow the shop to have a long-term future, generating funds for its own ongoing operation with hopefully the ability to contribute to other community ventures.”

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