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Community urged to back East Boldre shop plans for former Baptist church

EAST Boldre residents are being urged to help fund ambitious plans to transform a former Baptist church into a new community shop.

As reported, a group of residents have joined forces to develop £660,000 plans to purchase the former church building on Chapel Lane for use as a community shop, post office and bicycle repair facility.

Through an initiative launched yesterday (Friday), the committee is trying to raise £200,000 by selling shares to the community worth between £15 and £15,000.

East Boldre Baptist Church (picture: Google) (59682734)
East Boldre Baptist Church (picture: Google) (59682734)

Three drop-in information sessions will be held at East Boldre village hall tomorrow between 11am and midday; on Friday 27th from 7pm to 8pm; and on Saturday 11th February between 11am and 1pm.

Resident Rebecca Gabzdyl said: “A group of villagers is spearheading the campaign to keep a shop and post office and save the heart of the village.

“In living memory, East Boldre had a butcher, a baker and a grocer. Now the only remaining shop, which is also the local post office, is under threat of closure as the owner wishes to retire.”

The committee has previously faced a series of setbacks after a scheme to extend the village hall fell through due to complications with developing on Forest grazing land, as did a plan to buy the existing shop after the current owner decided to use it as a home.

Describing the Baptist church plans as a “once in a lifetime” chance to establish a community-run business in community-owned premises, the committee is now urging residents to support the scheme by taking shares out.

The Community Shop tea, from left: Alison Moore-Gwyn, Nick Thomas, Rebecca Gabzdyl, Judith Richardson, Anna Rostand, Mike Hawker and David Moore-Gwyn
The Community Shop tea, from left: Alison Moore-Gwyn, Nick Thomas, Rebecca Gabzdyl, Judith Richardson, Anna Rostand, Mike Hawker and David Moore-Gwyn

It is estimated that the total cost of taking on the site, including building works, shop fit, equipment and other project costs, will run to around £660,000. This will be financed by a £200,000 share offer scheme; £299,000 from a government Community Ownership Fund (COF) and £160,000 from other grants from the district and county council, Lottery and other sources.

A committee spokesperson said: “By buying shares you become the owners of East Boldre’s community shop, and have a say in how it is run.”

The minimum purchase is one share for £15 and the maximum is 1,000 shares for £15,000.

All shareholders have an equal say regardless of their investment and it is hoped the community ownership model will foster customer loyalty.

East Boldre Village Store (picture: Google) (50567558)
East Boldre Village Store (picture: Google) (50567558)

As well as raising vital funds for the project, the share scheme is a key part of grant aid applications as it demonstrates the project has community backing.

East Boldre Community Stores treasurer Mike Hawker said: “As the shares are £15 each it is hoped that people will feel able to buy at least one.

“To meet our challenging but, we believe, achievable target for the share offer of £200,000, clearly we need most people to buy more than one share and for some, to buy substantially more.”

For more information visit www.eastboldrecommunitystores.com

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