Village shop finally opens after battle with Winchester planners

9:00am Thursday 13th December 2012

A SHOP has finally opened in the car park of a village pub thanks to the efforts of landlady Karen Wells.

Karen, who runs the Chestnut Horse in Easton, has been trying to get the new venture off the ground for the past three months.

It was held up by planning issues after two residents objected to the wooden building because it was out of keeping with the area.

But Karen, 31, was given the green light earlier this week and welcomed her first customer at 9am on Tuesday.

She said: “I’m really chuffed to open this as it was a struggle and we worked hard and had to fight for it, but I’m so pleased we got the job done.

“It was delayed because there were a couple of objections from residents about traffic congestion and that it was out of keeping with the area.”

After discussions with city council planners and a meeting with the objectors, the shop was able to open on two conditions — specific opening hours and removal of the building if the business fails.

Karen said: “Everyone is entitled to their opinion because that’s how the planning process works, but I am just pleased with the end result.”

She would not disclose financial information but said the business was not expected to make big profits straight away.

“It’s being run as a profitable business but the main objective is to provide an additional service to the village and community,” she said.

“It will take a long time to make a return on my expenditure, but it’s a long-term project.”

She has employed four part-time staff to run the shop, including her mother Diane.

Diane, 59, said: “Karen and I talked about this shop and she was keen to do it so I wanted to help out. She’s the manager but I’m the boss!”

Peter Sly, 60, a builder from Itchen Abbas, was one of the first customers through the doors on Tuesday, and said he was pleased to see the shop.

He said: “I hope this will become a meeting place for the village because that’s what a shop should be — creating a heart for the village. I love the pub here so I will support the shop.”

Kaye Thompson, 48, an Easton resident whose company Creative Design & Build Hampshire helped build the shop, added: “I think this is something great for the people of the village to have on their doorstep.”

As reported in the Chronicle in August, Karen went ahead with the plan after overwhelming public support following a 300-home survey.

It sells a variety of goods including Hampshire produce like Jude’s Ice Cream and Lyburn Farm cheese.

The shop is open from 9am-6pm Tuesday to Friday, 9am-5pm on Saturdays, and 10am-4pm on Sundays.

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