Com­mu­nity hub gains back­ing

Pop-up shop plan for empty build­ings

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - By Lor­can Lovett lor­can.lovett@trin­i­tymir­

A GROUP which hopes to boost a vil­lage high street has ex­pressed its frus­tra­tions about land­lords who own empty build­ings.

The Vil­lage Ac­tion Group in Chal­font St Peter hopes to trans­form an empty shop into a com­mu­nity hub which would in­clude a tourist cen­tre and meet­ing place.

Mem­ber of the group, Bob Older, ear­marked the for­merChal­fontHome­ware Stores in Mar­ket Place which has been empty for about two and a half years as a good spot to set up com­mu­nity-ori­en­tated dis­plays and in­for­ma­tion stands.

Mr Older said: “I have found that land­lords are un­will­ing to even open dis­cus­sion on such an idea (as a com­mu­nity hub) and seem to pre­fer to leave their prop­er­ties aban­doned pend­ing a new full rent­pay­ing ten­ant rather than take the op­por­tu­nity to give a lit­tle back to the com­mu­nity on which their busi­nesses are ul­ti­mately based.

“Nev­er­the­less, we would be de­lighted to hear from any­one with sug­ges­tions as to how we could move for­ward with this over­all aim of cher­ish­ing our high street.”

The group of­fered to re­fur­bish the front of the build­ing and pro­tect the in­te­rior from damp.

Man­ager of the build­ing Ma­hesh Pa­tel, whose sis­ter-in-law Parul Pa­tel owns the build­ing, says they will be will­ing to work with the group after they con­clude a lease for­fei­ture with the pre­vi­ous ten­ant and en­ter a plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion for an ex­pan­sion of the base­ment.

Mr Pa­tel will then also try to rent the premises out ‘as soon as pos­si­ble’.

He said: “I would love to work with the lo­cal guys. We do not mind help­ing out but the prob­lem is we do not have pos­ses­sion of the prop­erty yet.”

Mr Pa­tel says they should be able to fin­ish their le­gal process and plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion within ‘a cou­ple of weeks’.

The Cham­ber of Com­merce has backed the idea of a pop-up shop in Chal­font St Peter and have also sug­gested this build­ing should be used for the com­mu­nity if it is with­out a ten­ant.

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