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Hope for vital new shop in Teign Valley

Devon villagers launch Community Shop Share Offer

Residents of the Teign Valley in Devon are rallying together to bring a vital service back to their village with the launch of a community shop project.

Christow, in the Teign Valley within Dartmoor National Park, lost its last remaining shop and Post Office in May 2023. Now, a dedicated group of locals is spearheading efforts to establish a new community-owned shop to serve Christow and surrounding villages.

To get the project off the ground, the committee is seeking to raise £60,000 through a combination of community shares, grants, donations and fundraising. The community share offer opened this week, allowing residents and supporters to invest in the project, which is being supported by the local parish council.

If the target is hit, phase one of the project would see a wooden-clad shipping container transformed into the not-for-profit shop, potentially within four months. A part-time manager would be recruited, with volunteers also playing a key role.

The shop, sited on part of the village car park close to the Teign Valley Community Hall and the B3193 valley road, will provide essential goods, support local producers, and serve as a social hub. Plans include extended opening hours and a small café area.

Following strong support in a 2023 community survey, where 97 per cent of respondents viewed a village shop as important or very important, a steering committee was formed to develop the project under the umbrella of the Christow Community Land Trust, which has already helped deliver 18 Passivhaus affordable homes to the village in recent years.

Iain Wilson, chair of the steering committee, said: “Losing our last shop has been a real blow, particularly for our older residents and those without easy access to transport. This project is about more than just convenience – it’s about strengthening our community and ensuring Christow remains a vibrant place to live.

“We’ve had a fantastic response, including at launch events held over the weekend. Now we’re hoping enough people will get behind this incredible community effort, to make it a reality.”

The initial shop, clad in locally sourced wood, will be housed in a converted shipping container, with plans for a purpose-built structure in the future if the venture proves successful. This has often been how successful community shop projects have got off the ground in other parts of Devon and elsewhere. The nearest alternative shops are currently four to ten miles away.

Shares cost £1, with a minimum purchase of 20. Income tax payers buying at least £300 of shares qualify for 50 per cent tax relief.

Grants and donations totalling some £13,800 have already been received from organisations including Teign Valley Farmers’ Market, Devon County Council Growing Communities Fund, The Norman Family Trust and Christow Community Land Trust, with another £16,800 pledged by prospective community shareholders.

The initiative comes just three months after the nearby Drewe Arms in Drewsteignton, one of the oldest pubs in Devon, reopened after being bought by the community, becoming the most successful community pub crowdfunder in the country.

Torie Hitchings, committee secretary, added: “By investing in community shares, people can play a direct role in bringing this vital service back to Christow and the surrounding area. It’s an opportunity for everyone to have a stake in the future of our village.”

For more information about the project and community shares, visit teignvalley.org/christowshop or email [email protected].