Since the planning application for the Community Hub was submitted there have been some comments from residents asking why a shop is not included in the plans. Parish Councillor Peter Rose writes …
The development of a shop is still on the Parish Council’s agenda but there are a number of reasons why it does not feature in the current planning application.
It can be seen in the initial plans for the Neighbourhood Plan that a village shop was one of the items under discussion. The Parish Council took advice on what needed to be done to achieve the development of a shop. It was felt that a shop, even community run, would not be viable in the current climate (Long Wittenham is a very small village and is close to large supermarkets). It was also felt that development of a shop could affect the viability of the shop in Clifton Hampden.
A new and enlarged village hall was a priority in our plans. However, a shop attached to this would require a large space and this would have compromised the provision of the other facilities in the hall. The new hall will be twice the size of the current hall. The new hall will not cost the village a penny but its size is limited by the economic viability of the whole site, and this is especially true since Covid etc with the dramatic rise in building costs.
Once the new hall is built there are plans based on successful schemes locally to try to provide some shop facilities. However we plan to start small and build up. Initially we would like to run a village cafe in the hall. This is more likely to be viable and could also provide facilities for those working from home. Associated with the cafe we could initially run produce stalls in the summer and possibly other market type stalls, for example bread. This type of provision has proved successful in Sandford. If these proved successful we could proceed to a regular shop – there is certainly some adjacent space available for this.
If a group of residents wanted to develop an alternative plan for a community shop immediately, the parish council would always be ready to discuss this: an initial approach at any parish council meeting would be a way to start the ball rolling.
If you haven’t yet commented on the Community Hub planning application, please do so here: