January 08th, 2022
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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.
We were initially in two minds about hiring a planning consultant for this project as we were working to a tight budget and weren’t sure we could justify the cost. However, it quickly became apparent that not only was Wreyland Rural Planning excellent value for money, there was simply no way we could have navigated the complexities of the planning process without them and achieved a successful outcome. Tim was unbelievably helpful, professional and invested in the project from the start, and went above and beyond to help us achieve our goals.
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