Most readers will be aware that there is a long-standing project to open a new community store to replace the present shop in Preston Candover, which is set to close. During 2016, considerable progress was made with the project and we thought an update from the Chairmen of the two committees would be helpful.
Agreement was reached to build the new shop as an extension to Preston Candover Village Hall, on their land and to be in their ownership. Thus it will be a true community asset and, when fully operational, will generate income for the Village Hall and other local causes in the Valley.
Thanks to the help of a few generous local people, the architect (ProVision) was commissioned, and designed a sympathetic building, cleverly linked to the Hall, but operationally independent of it.
Planning permission was achieved during the summer, large-scale drawings suitable for tendering and building regulations were made, and at the time of writing, quotations from several local builders are awaited.
The business plan envisages a shop selling a wide range of everyday essentials at competitive prices, some locally sourced specialties, gifts and cards, wine, spirits and tobacco products. It is planned to retain the Post Office, which is an important element in the mix. There will also be an area with newspapers and magazines, and tea, coffee and light bites available to eat in or take away. It is expected that this will be a popular venue at the centre of the village.
The shop will be run by a management committee and volunteers, and will be supported by a full-time paid manager. This model has been widely adopted throughout the country for community shops and pubs, and is successful in most of the places where it operates. The Plunkett Foundation, a charity specialising in this type of project, continues to provide invaluable advice.
The next stage, which starts in early 2017, it is to raise the necessary funds to build the extension and equip and stock the shop. It is likely to be a substantial six-figure sum. Most of this must be raised from local people living in and around the Valley, supplemented by various grants. Almost all grants require the community to raise an equal amount before application. Thus every thousand pounds donated will potentially unlock a similar amount in grants, making it important to raise as much money as possible at an early stage.
The project is well on its way, and with the support of everyone, both financially and in kind, will become a reality in 2017.
Richard Walker, Chair CVCS
Adam Alexander, Chair Village Hall