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East Boldre residents reveal £660,000 community shop plan for baptist church

AMBITIOUS plans to transform a former baptist church into a new community shop for East Boldre are to be considered by the national park authority.

A group of residents have developed £660,000 plans to purchase the former church building on Chapel Lane and transform it into a community shop, post office and bicycle repair facility.

As reported in the A&T, the East Boldre Community Stores committee has faced a series of setbacks after a scheme to extend the village hall to accommodate a shop fell through due to complications with developing on grazing land.

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

Their next plan to buy the existing shop also fell through after the current owner decided to use it as a home.

A full planning application for the church has now been submitted to the NPA by villager Rebecca Gabzdyl on behalf of East Boldre Community Stores Ltd.

Ms Gabzdyl said: “East Boldre’s privately owned shop and post office has been at risk of closure for the last five 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.”

The bid outlines plans to transform the chapel into nearly 100 square metres of retail space with a multi-use area for art exhibitions and special events, a small kitchen, toilet and storage rooms.

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

A church hall at the front of the plot would be demolished to make way for parking spaces with electric charging points. A wildlife friendly garden would also be created.

A cycle rack and bicycle repair station is proposed along with other environmental features such as a rainwater harvesting system, solar panels and an air source heat pump.

The application said: “We have exhausted alternative options for a site to establish a community shop over the preceding four years, so acquiring the Baptist chapel presents a one-off opportunity to preserve this vital amenity in our village.

“Without the village shop, trips currently made to the village shop or post office for convenience items and accessing cash, many by foot or bike, would be replaced by a car journey to the alternatives – a 10-mile round trip.”

It is estimated the site acquisition, building works, shop fit, equipment and other project costs will run to around £660,000.

Funding is hoped to come from a £200,000 share offer scheme; £299,000 from a government Community Ownership Fund; and £160,000 from other grants from district and county councils, Lottery funding and other sources.

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