‘Small shop with a big vision’ planned for Fittleworth

A long-awaited community shop could be on the way for Fittleworth, with plans officially submitted for approval this week.

The proposal for the primarily volunteer run store near the village hall has been welcomed by residents, who have to travel out of the village to buy groceries.

Parish councillor Alison Welterveden said the project was ‘a small shop with a big vision’, not just as a utility, but as a ‘focal point’ for the village to help people meet each other.

She said: “It was always much more than just being able to provide groceries to the village, it’s a social hub for the village.

“We really love the idea that we can all go to catch up somewhere as a community, because we don’t have that at the moment.”

So far, nearly 60 people have come forward to offer their services as volunteer staff, with others happy to offer help with finances, branding and even social media.

A shop manager and assistant manager would be paid members of staff, but having volunteers to help out will keep costs down and make sure products stay affordable, Cllr Welterveden explained.

In a survey of around 450 residents last year, 82 percent ranked a village shop as a priority for the area.

“It’s taken a while becuase it’s a community shop and we’ve consulted with the community at every stage,” said Cllr Welterveden.

“It’s lovely to have got to this point now that we’ve got everyone’s views and input.

“We’ve got something up that we think will be widely supported by the village.”

If possible, the shop management hope to introduce a Post Office facility at the store to make up for the one that was lost with the village shop a few years ago.

The plans also include relocating the existing playground area closer to the village hall, complete with new, timber-based equipment for a wider range of ages.

Cllr Welterveden said Fittleworth Village School had expressed an interest in re-using some of the old equipment, which was ‘well-loved’.

Full details of the plans are on display boards by the site.

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