Castle Bytham to have its first shop in six years
A village looks finally to have its own shop for the first time in six years.
Residents of Castle Bytham have long fought and fund-raised for the return of a shop, which is now due to open in the New Year.
Revised plans for the store on land off Station Road have just received planning approval from South Kesteven District council, with work set to start this Autumn.
Chairman of the shop committee, parish councillor Peter Hinton, says the project has faced many hurdles, including a fresh location, which meant a changed design.
But with the Bythams Community Shop Ltd taking possession of the site and funding in place, the contract for the building has been agreed to build and equip the premises.
The community shop and café follows a campaign involving the village which began in January 2014, a month after the last commercial shop closed in the village.
Peter said: “It has been a major task to raise the necessary funds, find a suitable location and design a building that will fit into the rural location.”
The actual site is on the edge of a disused quarry and was donated by the previous owner, who also made a ‘generous’ cash donation to kickstart the project.
In the meantime, the shop committee raised the rest of the funds through grant applications and selling ‘community shares’ for the project.
Peter said the share issue was an important indicator of community investment and support when applying for grant support.
“We continue to offer shares for sale and get residents involved, including seeking volunteer staff to help out when we open.”
“In all the committee has raised well over £200,000 for the project so far.”
He added: “In rural communities shops and cafés are as important as a local hub or meeting place because they are as a source of the products they sell.
“The model of community owned and managed shops and cafés has been proven to be a better business model in villages across the UK.”
The shop and café will be run by a manager, with part-time staff supplemented by volunteers.
It will be a limited company referred to as a not-for-profit Community Benefit Society and any surplus profit not put back into the business must be used within the community.
*Pictured is an earlier version of the planned shop.
More by this authorDarren Greenwood