The overall project will provide Seavington with a community owned & run shop and cafe which will also deliver other services. Phase 1, funded by Rural Renaissance, involved finalising the design & allowed application for planning and building regulations approval from the local authority. The shop and cafe will be constructed alongside the existing village hall to form a cohesive social centre to the villages.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
Seavington St Mary and Seavington St Michael are two small Somerset villages which share a church, pub and village hall. The entire community comprises 220 homes and some 550 residents. The community is poorly served by public transport and many of the older residents have no car.
Surveys for a Parish Plan showed that residents missed the social centre provided by the now closed village shop and were concerned at the time taken and cost of travel to nearby towns for casual shopping. Many were also concerned at the environmental impact of their shopping trips. There was a demand for reinstatement of a village shop.
Residents formed the Seavington Community Shop and Services Association and enlisted the support of the Village Retail Services Association (ViRSA), a charity devoted to support of community built and run shops.
With generous support from the Somerset Rural Renaissance Partnership, together with local fundraising, it has taken only 7 months to bring the project from concept to a tangible scheme for which planning and detailed consents have now been granted.
The approvals are for a detached shop and cafe to be built on land adjacent to the village hall which will be owned and run by the community as an Industrial Provident Society on a not-for-profit basis with residents owning £5 shares. During the evenings the cafe will be available as a meeting room for young people and local clubs and societies.
The building is planned around the concepts of sustainability and it is intended to include a photo-voltaic roof for electricity generation and a ground source heat pump for heating.
Without support from the Rural Renaissance Programme it would not have been possible to maintain the momentum of the project to reach the present stage in only 7 months.