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Clarkson’s at it again! Diddly Squat Farm Shop has had a planning contravention notice served on it as allegedly products sold in the shop didn’t come from the farm. Now the 2020 lambing shed is to become a 60 seater restaurant… Cue spittle flecked objections - “Thin end of the wedge!” “Planning by the back door!” “Stealth planning!” “I moved next to a farm for peace and quiet yet all I can smell is shit and I can see people wondering about covered in it too! What is this, 1886 Casterbridge? - it’s outrageous!”
I have total sympathy with Clarkson and what he’s doing. Clarkson told Jeremy Vine “There is more traffic yes, but there is more business – the village shop is doing better, the café is doing better, the pub in the village – they are all doing better.”
I grew up in a small yet achingly pretty village on Dartmoor. Middle of nowhere – closer to an MOD firing range than it is a latte, yet it has a village shop with post office in which you can get all the ingredients for a top-notch curry, a damn good pub, a mechanic’s premises who will lend you a car when yours is being repaired, a really interesting gallery and a tea-room which’ll knock you up a quality wedding cake.
The point is that the village is absolutely buzzing – all the time. People who work from home and need to pop up to the shop for a pint of milk have to factor in at least 45 minutes chatting-time to all the people they bump into while in the village. The community is thriving, local people are able to make a living and enjoy living in a cohesive community and it’s all because the enterprises in that village both satisfy a need and provide a reason for people to be there.
The first paragraph of the forward to the 2008 Taylor Review is absolutely on the money when it says “The English Countryside is a wonderful place to live and work – if you can afford a home, if you can find a reasonably paid job.”
This is why I am so exceptionally pleased this week to have received permission for a project in Worcestershire just west of Tewkesbury. Wreyland Rural Planning have secured permission for the reorganisation of uses together with operational development of a dilapidating rural petrol station which had ceased operations in 2017 and has been hanging around since awaiting an entrepreneurial type to show it some love.
The applicants – a local company with a strong track record of returning dilapidated buildings to commercial uses and whom provide employment for over 40 people in the immediate area, will re-commence fuel sales from the site, however the principal focus will be on the shop, which moves from a standard petrol station kiosk to providing a full village shop for the residents of Bushley and Forthampton and which will also provide for a post-office. Products sold by the shop will be principally sourced from established relationships with multiple local producers – the furthest being from Bristol.
This development will also provide 5 additional FTE jobs to the area.
The application required a bit of grey matter, involving the demolition and re-building of the site’s structures, a reorganisation of the site’s layout its buildings and its parking areas, ecological works, and culminated with S247 negotiations with Highways.
I am really looking forward to seeing the applicant’s take this one further.