New facilities at the heart of Cotswold village

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Cotswold Blog

The Cotswold Blog is a collection of diary entries, news, gossip and other Cotswold related information.

New facilities at the heart of Cotswold village

Building work has started on a new annex to the village hall in Down Ampney, Gloucestershire, that will house a shop, post office and cafe. When it is finished in July there will be a full range of community facilities, including the primary school and play ground next to the village hall, located at the heart of this Cotswold village.

A loan from the Co-operative Loan Fund is being added to the £25,000 raised by the villagers themselves and grants from the Rural Development Programme for England and the Village CORE programme and funds from others sources to pay for the 100m2 extension, which includes many low energy features.

When the last shop in the village closed in 1998, the residents took matters into their own hands and set up a small shop in a portable building placed next to the village hall. For the last 12 years the tiny shop has been run successfully by a dedicated team of volunteers from the Down Ampney Village Shop Association, a community co-operative with over 100 members.

The portable building has come to the end of its useful life and requires frequent repair, and the shop needs more space for stock. Also the post office is located in a cottage on the outskirts of the village – an inconvenient arrangement. For the last two years the shop association, the village hall committee and the parish council have been working together, drawing up plans and sourcing finance to improve all the community facilities.

In 2009 the village hall was completely rebuilt and this new annex, when finished, will bring everything together in an environmentally-sensitive building that includes solar and photovoltaic panels, light tubes, an air source heat pump and rainwater harvesting.

The chairman of Down Ampney Village Shop Association, Sheila Bull, who also runs the post office said: “The new shop is about four times the size of the old one, so we’ll be able to stock a lot more, including more locally sourced produce. It’s going to make a tremendous difference having everything in one place at last – the shop, the post office, the school, playground and village hall all in the centre of the village.”

Ian Rothwell of the Co-operative Loan Fund added: “We are delighted to support the exciting new development at Down Ampney, so the residents can finally have the village shop they deserve. The dedication and hard work they have given over the last decade to keep the shop turning a profit is highly commendable and we have high hopes for the future of this village shop.”

The Co-operative Group, which is one of the sponsors of the Co-operative Loan Fund, has farms nearby. It owns the land on which the village hall and the shop stand and it owns the cottage that currently houses the post office. The Co-operative Group was pleased to give additional support to the project by assisting with the architect’s fees.

Down Ampney, population 526, is the birth place of the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams and is located within the Cotswold Water Park area. It is also the location of the Veterans’ Arnhem Memorial commemorating war time operations from Down Ampney Airfield. Down Ampney is a popular destination for tourists in the Cotswolds.

Posted : 04/05/2010 10:58:33

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