The village of Oake is situated about 6 miles west of the county town of Taunton and consists of a church, primary school, village hall and a community shop and Post Office. The shop started just over 60 years ago when a local resident living next to the Village Hall built an extension on to the front of his bungalow and opened the shop. Various owners continued the business until 2008 when the current owners tried to sell because the business could no longer generate sufficient profits to support his family. They were unsuccessful in selling and in 2012 decided to close the shop. The Parish Council did not want to lose this valuable asset and persuaded a number of local residents to form the Community Benefit Society (CBS) to continue the shop and did so with the aid of a Lottery Grant.
The owner of the property agreed a five year lease which expired on 30 November 2017 and we negotiated a 15 month lease expiring 29 February 2019 to give us time to search for alternative accommodation. (A further extension to August 2019 is being considered.) We identified five possibilities and undertook a feasibility study which highlighted an extension to the new Village Hall as the preferred option. This had the support of the Village Hall Committee and the Parish Council that owned the hall and they indicated that they considered a peppercorn rent would be appropriate, a substantial benefit to our finances! Plans have been drawn and costed at c£145,000. We are also in the Neighbourhood Plan, for which a questionnaire was sent to every household and of those that responded 80% said that the Post Office and shop was most important to them.
The south west board of the National Lottery has agreed to recomend to the National Board our application for a grant of £95,000 and Somerset Community Foundation is considering our request for a loan of £20,000 plus matched funding of £10,000 but they both require evidence that we can cover the balance, hence this Crowdfunding request.
If we cannot raise the funds there is no alternative and the shop and post office will have to close. Since the nearest alternative shop is 3 miles away and the post office 4 miles distant, this will be a considerable disadvantage to the local inhabitants, especially the elderly who rely on the post office to draw their pension as well as provide banking and other post services. The shop also provides daily papers and most of their everyday requirements.