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Village near Grantham to have own shop for first time in years

Castle Bytham will soon have its own shop for the first time in more than five years.

A community-owned company that will run the venture has gained planning approval from South Kesteven District Council for a simpler and cheaper design for the building, on land opposite 39 and 41 Station Road, by the site of a former quarry.

Applicant, parish councillor Peter Hinton, said a previous application was approved last year, but the design was too complicated and too expensive.

He said: “A lot of work for many community projects is pro-bono. We had to come up with a simpler design.”

This week, the Bythams Community Shop Ltd will be taking possession of the site. Coun Hinton explained: “When our last commercial shop closed in December 2013, by the end of January a committee got together and formed a community interest company.

“We came up with the idea of a community shop and cafe. It’s been a hard slog fund-raising. The project will cost just over £260,000. The money has been pledged or is physically in our own bank account.”

A share sale raised £38,000 from villagers, with other funding coming from a variety of grants and loans.

Coun Hinton added: “Work will start in the New Year with completion on June 1, if possible. The shop will be a pre-fabricated timber-frame clad building. It will actually take longer to dig the foundations.

“Our business plan is we will have a manager and two part-time assistants as paid staff, supplemented by a number of volunteers.

“It’s not just a retail outlet. The model is a rural community hub. It serves to improve community cohesion, especially with the rundown of bus services.”

Castle Bytham recently lost its regular bus service, leaving villagers a dial-a-ride facility.

Parish council chairman Vicky Dennis said the council is organising a petition, which currently has 80 signatures. She also met MP Nick Boles about the matter three weeks ago.

She said: “People mostly go to Stamford for their shopping but if they don’t have their own transport, it is difficult. It has taken people’s independence away and they are too embarrassed to ask.

“It will be fantastic to have our shop back. If we can have a regular bus service, that will be even better.”

Coun Dennis added: “Peter has been extremely tenacious in getting as far as he has got.”

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