WORK has begun on building a new community store in Preston Candover.

Villagers in the Candover Valley have seen work begin on their project to build a new community store and post office.

Several years of planning, preparation, consultation and fundraising led to ground being broken this week.

Designed by architects ProVision of Ampfield, construction of the timber-clad building is being undertaken by Alresford-based company CPFM and is expected to take four months. The target opening date is May 2019.

Over half the money needed to build, fit out, stock and operate the new store has been raised through local donations and a share scheme that now has 245 members. Additional funds from Hampshire County Council and the National Lottery have allowed the £220,000 project to go ahead.

Community Store chairman Richard Walker said: “Today really is a very exciting day for our many supporters and for our committee members. We have been working very hard to make this happen as we all believe that a shop and post office are key to maintaining the vigour and life of the village communities in our area.”

The new store which will be largely staffed by volunteers will provide vital local services for residents in the Candover Valley and be a welcoming place for people to visit to shop for top-up groceries, to post their parcels or to sit for a while with a coffee.