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:
So much hard work has been put into this project and now we need to throw our support behind the planning application and see the work begin . How lucky we are in this village to have such dedicated people giving their time to keep going when certain people put objections in the way they didn’t give up thank you. If a village is not prepared to move and change with the changing world it will loose out a new school and facilities will allow the village to prosper in the way we want not have housing forced on us that is not in keeping with our village which has so much history.
Do the people wanting a village shop use the one at Clifton Hampden ? many village community shops struggle to get the volunteers needed to run . We are lucky to have Didcot, Wallingford and Abingdon only around4 miles away . Setting up a voluntary car help service for Dr appointments , hospital visits collecting prescriptions etc would foster friendship and certainly help the elderly who can’t drive.
Once again thank you who has worked on these projects in the past and know that you cannot please everyone but where are they when help is needed?
The problem always is that although people want a shop they don’t use it enough for it to be financially viable. We are too close to Didcot with multiple options so if you want anything more than one or two items you go there rather than the village shop. That’s why the previous shop closed. There will be flexible space in the new village hall so possibilities for occasional market/shop/whatever. Go and have a look at some of the options tried in other villages eg Sandford, Little Milton etc and see what you think would work here and offer to get it going.
I seem to remember a previous survey some while back, when many people asked for a shop, but no-one answered “yes” to the next question, “Would you be prepared to be involved with running it”……..