East Boldre Community Stores plans to buy the Baptist chapel as community owned premises for a community run shop.

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Our organisation

East Boldre Community Stores' was incorporated as a community benefit society in October 2020  with the objective of safeguarding the long-term future of East Boldre’s shop and Post Office, essential to the life, vitality and resilience of our village. We aim to achieve this by establishing our community run shop in community owned premises.

As a Management Committee we are committed and passionate about involving our community throughout our journey together to make sure we’re taking the best approach for the community's business.

Our motivation

Our village shop and Post Office is a vital for banking, bill payment, key top-ups as well as groceries.

There is much to celebrate in our New Forest village with good levels of employment, training and education and above average levels of income and health. 

 

However, our community is in the bottom 2.5% nationally in terms of deprivation due to barriers to housing and services.

High local house prices means locals struggle to stay in the community their families have lived in for generations. A very limited bus service is a problem for the 10% of households with no car. 

There used to be 3 shops in the village, now the last surviving one is under threat of closure. The school, doctors surgery, youth clubs, a football club and a lunch club but these have ceased and local people are in danger of people becoming isolated.

A brief history

East Boldre's privately owned shop and Post Office has been at risk of closure for the last 5 years and we have invested a huge amount of time and energy in pursuing various local options for a site for our shop. This has not been an easy task as our village borders restricted Crown grazing land and local house prices are high.

In September 2021, we agreed to buy the existing shop property and had been granted planning permission to expand the retail area. We had secured significant funding through an award of £250,000 from the Government's Community Ownership fund, other grants and our ongoing community share offer. However, in January 2022 we were hugely disappointed when the owner pulled out of the sale. While keen to retire from the long hours running the shop entails he wants to remain in his home.

Until recently we had exhausted all of the available options....

A New Opportunity

The Baptist Church in Chapel Lane came onto the market a couple of months ago.

This had always been an option for a community owned and run shop but until now it has not been available. With all other feasible options for our community shop exhausted, we feel this is a one-off opportunity that we have to seize.

The chapel offers a spacious home for our community shop, very similar in area to the highly successful community shop in Woodgreen.

The 1990’s hall would be demolished to make way for a car park that would provide off road parking and turning space. Hedges and landscaping would improve the street scene.

We have gathered the team back together and are delighted Alison and David have joined us. We have reviewed and updated our detailed business plan to be sure that it is a viable proposal.

 

On that basis we have submitted an offer for the Baptist Chapel and are waiting to hear if it is accepted.

We had successfully raised a considerable part of our funding target by January 2022 for our proposed purchase of the existing shop. Unfortunately, we had to repay all our funders when that plan could not go ahead. As we will need to start fundraising again from scratch, our offer has been made subject to us raising the necessary funds by April 2023.

This way forward is by no means certain yet, but as it will be a community shop, we believe it’s important to keep you in the loop. If our offer is accepted, we’ll let you know.

The existing shop and Post Office

Many of you will have noticed recent changes ongoing in the shop. Ian intends to continue as Postmaster but is keen to reduce the long hours running the shop entails.

He plans to significantly reduce the existing shop space and consequently its product offering.

If our plans go ahead, we will run our community shop from the chapel and Ian has agreed he will relocate the Post Office and operate it from there.

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Its Official!

East Boldre Community Stores Limited was incorporated as a community benefit society today.
We are listed on the Financial Conduct Authority's Mutual Public Register and at Companies House!

8/10/2020