Building a bigger premises

A community village shop in Herefordshire is moving forward with plans to build bigger premises thanks to financial assistance from Co-operative & Community Finance.

Whitbourne Village Community Shop, near Worcester, is currently renting a lean-to on the side of a pub and only has a very small 12 square metres sales area. The plan is to buy a field at the entrance of the village and build larger premises offering a wider range of services capable of significantly increasing footfall and turnover.

The new shop which has the backing of the Parish Council, a network of local producers and 120 village shop shareholders, will have increased display and storage space, a limited postal service, an area to serve snacks, a small office space and broadband access.

Some of the 0.7 acre site will also be transformed into allotments, providing opportunities for residents to grow and market food, a children’s nature garden and safe, accessible parking. The shop will be run by a team of volunteers from the local community but will also be supported by a marketing and development worker on an 18-month contract.

The enhanced services of the shop will serve the needs of the whole community, especially the less mobile and the elderly, as the nearest alternative shop is more than five miles away.

Martin Yarnit, Chairman of the Whitbourne Village Community Shop Association, said: “Local people – producers and consumers – have told us they want to see even more locally produced food and drink on sale. Now we’ll be able to showcase a wealth of local produce, and also help to develop some local food businesses. This will be good for people’s pockets and their stomachs too.”

The intention of the new site is to strengthen the network of local food producers and to boost the sales of locally produced food – from the current 40% of sales to 60%.

Ian Taylor of Co-operative & Community Finance said: “The current shop is one of the smallest we have visited, but this has not stopped it from being very successful. The plans to expand, and also create allotments will help to further increase community cohesion.”