HOPES are high a village shop can return to Ogwell but it needs residents to raise £80,000. 

Plans to relaunch the shop, which is on the corner of Margaret Road and Abbotsridge Drive, have been in talks for five years.

Now the project has the chance to take a major step forward having reached an agreement to buy the former shop premises which closed more than 10 years ago. 

Former shop in Ogwell
The formervillage shop in Ogwell. PhotoGoogleMaps (GoogleMaps)

Ogwell Community Hub Ltd, a not for profit Community Benefit Society was formed in 2021, is being supported by Plunkett UK, a charitable organisation specialising in community ownership of shops and pubs and through a partnership with Ogwell Parish Council. 

The new deal means reopening the shop is close to becoming a reality but two major obstacles remain. 

A bid has been made to central Government’s Community Ownership Fund but part of this requires residents to raise funds, through a share issue scheme, to provide 20 per cent match funding. 

Two public meetings are planned where residents can ask questions and find out more about the progress on the bid. 

Paul Martin, chairman of Ogwell Community Hub Ltd, said: ‘The replies to our survey overwhelmingly confirmed that Ogwell really misses its shop and would like to see it successfully back in business. 

‘Now there’s a way we can pull together as a village to make that happen. 

‘It will be a business we can all invest in and own.’

The Ogwell Community Hub has worked out it will cost around £400,000 to buy and renovate the existing shop premises and to re-stock and relaunch the shop. 

Paul explained: ‘We have been cleared to apply to the government’s Community Ownership Fund for a ‘match-funding’ grant to make this happen. 

‘So if we as a village can raise 20per cent which is  £80,000 of the total cost, the Community Ownership Fund will fund the remaining 80 per cent, £320,000. 

‘Then, with the help of local staff, volunteers and a part-time manager, we can refurbish the shop and reopen a profitable local business selling great value staple items, fresh fruit and veg, and locally-sourced products. 

‘Trading as what’s known as a Community Benefit Society and fully registered with the Financial Conduct Authority, the shop will become the heart of the village, serving as the prime focal hub for social interaction; being run in a sustainable way for the future benefit of the community and reducing the village’s carbon footprint by removing the need to drive to a shopping centre.’

Ogwell residents are being invited to but shares in the business, costing £25 each, to help raised the £80,000 needed. 

Once up and running, any profits made will be ploughed back into the community. 

Shareholders will also have a say in how the business is run. 

The bid has to be submitted by late May. 

Public meetings are taking place on Thursday April 25, 7.30pm at Canada Hill School and Monday April 29, 7.30pm at Ogwell Memorial Hall.