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The enterprising story...
of a new village shop

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SHOP @ The Lee

The Lee Parish has always had a shop... or two... or three...


That was
until the end of 2004, when The Old Shop and village Post Office - the last remaining shop in Lee Common - finally closed.
   
That is not to say that residents with transport were badly served for shops at the time. You would have found Budgen, Sainsbury, Somerfield, Tesco and Waitrose supermarkets all within ten minutes drive of The Lee - as well as the usual range of other shops and services. You could still get milk and papers delivered to your home by nearby businesses and of course a growing number of on-line delivery services.

"So why should people worry about not having a village shop?" I hear you say.

Well, in addition to the obvious benefits of a shop that you don't necessarily have to drive to, there could, it was argued, be many other advantages to a village shop. It often becomes a focal point for the community; you can meet people there, perhaps have a cup of coffee and make sure you know what’s going on locally, so you won’t miss out on the gossip. Estate agents always use the presence of a  shop as a selling point. A local shop will often sell local produce; imagine  being  able to buy all the  year round those wonderful cakes, bread, jam etc. that at the moment we can only buy once a year at the Flower Show. And of course, there's always something different about the service you receive at your local shop when compared to a large supermarket.

So, in 2004, when the closure of the previous shop was announced, a small working group was formed, chaired by the Chairman of the Parish Council, to take forward the idea of a community-run shop, to be positioned on a site next to the Parish Hall.

The progress towards opening was not entirely smooth, but in April 2007 a new shop opened in temporary accommodation and in November 2008 finally moved into a permanent building.The story of this journey is summarised below.

The latest
 news on the shop can be found at: SHOP @ The Lee Parish Hall.


The pictures of Porretts Stores and M.Holloway appear by permission of the Buckinghamshire County Museum
.

The previous shop in The Lee...
post office
... and some earlier incarnations
rose cottage
holloway stores
2004
September
Announcement of the closure of Lee Common Post Office (The Old Shop) due to the retirement of post-mistress.
Parish Council regrets 'loss of focal point of social contact' as well as postal and shopping facilities
Oct
Public Meeting recommends that village shop should be 'kept alive in some form'; (Hyde Heath community shop model presented to meeting as a possible model). Working party formed under chairmanship of Cllr Usborne to take forward discussions.
Nov

Survey of opinion in the Parish demonstrates overwhelming support with 85 offers of small unsecured loans and 37 offers of help to run the shop.
Dec
John Fortgang elected Chairman of working party; preparation of business plan commences.
Lee Common Post Office and shop closes.

2005
Feb

Outline plan presented to Parish Council. Two phases proposed - temporary structure next to Parish Hall; to be replaced later by permanent building. Shop to be community run. Parish Council supports the proposal and offers £500 of community funding
...
Detailed planning application prepared for submission to District Council; sources of funding investigated
2006
Feb

Chiltern District Council approves temporary planning permission; applications for grant aid submitted to Defra, The Lottery and other agencies.
May
The Lee Parish Community Shop Association Ltd. formally established and chaired by John Fortgang. First meeting held.
July
Chiltern District Council offers £1500 community funding; Defra rejects application (because of temporary nature); Lottery application  - outcome awaited.
Oct
Parish Hall Committe agrees 'in principle' to support an application to build - in due course - a permanent extension to the  Parish Hall to house a shop.
Nov
A welcome boost for the shop from the granting of an award of £10,000 by The Lottery’s 'Awards For All' programme; shop opening in a temporary building now planned for Spring 2007.
2007
Jan
Nearly there...
The Shop Committee appoint a
shop manager - Geoff Swindells and seek a couple of newspaper deliverers.
Feb
Geoff meets a number of the volunteers who have agreed to work in the shop, at an informal meeting in the Parish Hall. A call for more volunteers goes out.
March
Renewal of the temporary planning permission.
 April
SHOP @ The Lee Parish Hall opens 23rd April 2007 - 28 months after the closure of the previous shop. Formal opening by Mary Stewart-Liberty.
May
Shares go on sale in the SHOP
...
Planning permission granted for permanent building, so... more fund raising!
September
First AGM of shareholders.
Chairman announces that thanks to the generosity of local residents over £12,000 have been raised in unsecured loans.

2008
April

The Plunkett Foundation agrees £20,000 grant towards the new shop building conditional on raising a matching £20,000 loan from Co-operative & Community Finance.
Liz Stewart-Liberty makes donation of £4,000 and Tricia Birchley, on behalf of the County Council, promises a further £1,000. Others villagers make further financial pledges to a total of £3,500 in the form of unsecured loans or donations.
May
Shop announces sales of £93,000 together with a small trading profit for its first year.
June
Co-operative & Community Finance agree £20,000 loan - all finances now in place, so...
July
... building work begins.
Summer
Construction of the extension to the Parish Hall by Michael Soule Enterprises
November
SHOP @ The Lee Parish Hall finally moves into its new 'permanent' accomodation, adjoining the Parish Hall and is formally opened by Liz Stewart-Liberty - nearly four years after the closure of the 'last shop' in The Lee.
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Your comments and feedback are welcome, please contact: colin@thelee.org.uk