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Plans submitted to move New Forest village shop after 100 years

Pilley Community Shop could move into Boldre War Memorial Hall
Pilley Community Shop could move into Boldre War Memorial Hall

PLANS have been submitted to secure the future of a New Forest village store by relocating it to the local hall.

The proposal would move Pilley Community Shop and post office around half a mile to Boldre War Memorial Hall to protect an “essential” asset for residents, according to documents submitted to the national park authority.

Currently run by a manager and team of volunteers for the last five years, the enterprise has operated on the same site for 100 years. But it must now move as it is facing the lease not being renewed when it expires in 2022.

To accommodate the new facility at the village hall, the application seeks permission for a single-story side and rear extension and the addition of seven car parking spaces.

An existing children’s play area will also be relocated as part of the plans.

The proposal, submitted by the trustees of Boldre War Memorial Hall, said the changes are likely to be mutually beneficial, contributing to the continuing future success of the hall, shop and post office facilities.

Bernard Atkinson, chair of the shop management committee, said the store had gone from strength to strength since becoming a community-run asset and had remained open throughout the lockdown to maintain vital services for the village.

He said: “We have adapted as much as we can to serve the community throughout the pandemic with deliveries for those that are shielding. We very much hope the community will now get behind us and support this essential move.

“The idea actually came from the Boldre Memorial Hall trustees who approached us around two years ago to discuss co-locating these two community assets.”

Under the proposals, the new building will be paid for from memorial hall funds and then leased to the community shop management committee.

The aim is to complete the building project before October 2022 so the move can take place before the existing shop lease expires.

Stocked with newspapers, bakery products, fresh eggs, local produce, alcoholic and soft drinks and dry food goods, the store has significantly boosted trade since becoming a community venture.

It now has three times the turnover since before the volunteer management committee stepping in five years ago.

Mr Atkinson added: “Obviously we are very excited and will embrace all the opportunities that a new shop has to offer. Disabled access will be much improved.”

The national park authority is set to make a decision after the deadline for public comments on Wednesday.

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