Re-generation of Village Hub

Re-generation of the Village Hub

01 March 2010

The regeneration of the central hub at Down Ampney,
Gloucestershire, will become a reality later this year when the new
annex of the village hall will be fitted out as a shop, Post Office
and café. It is the outcome of a joint venture between the
respective committees of the village hall, the shop society and the
parish council.

The project will see the transfer of the shop – currently housed
in a Portacabin and the Post Office sited in a cottage on the
outskirts of the Village – to the more accessible hub in the centre
of the village.

The new 100 square metre extension to the recently re-built
village hall has been made possible by a grant from the Rural
Development Programme for England (RDPE) which will supply £196,045
of the £261,935 total project costs.

Villagers themselves have raised over £25,000 towards the costs
through a wide range of innovative fund raising events over the
years.

Sheila Bull, chairman of the shop society since its inception in
1999, confirms that the new arrangement will continue to be run as
a social enterprise. She re-affirms that the policy has always been
to use local suppliers and said: ”It will mean we can work with our
suppliers and partners to extend and develop the range of
locally-sourced food and products to our mutual benefit.”

At least 25 local volunteers will be involved in providing the
new services, and the business transfer and development will be
overseen by the shop society, which has been running the existing
shop at a small surplus for 11 years.

Terry Hardie, deputy chairman of the parish council said that
the Parish Plan, to which 91% of the adult population contributed,
was instrumental to the formulation of the overall project and gave
it a clear focus as to villagers’ needs.

While applying for the RDPE grant, the Village Hall Committee
was encouraged to make best use of low energy devices and, as a
result, the new hub will feature solar and photovoltaic panels,
light tubes, an air source heat pump and rainwater harvesting.

Down Ampney, population 526, is the birth place of Ralph Vaughan
Williams and is located within the Cotswold Water Park area. As it
is also the location of the Veterans’ Arnhem Memorial commemorating
war time operations from Down Ampney Airfield. Down Ampney is a
popular destination for tourists in the Cotswolds.

“There has been tremendous local support for this project
throughout its various stages,” said David Job, Chairman of the
Village Hall Committee, who is overseeing the project. “The
villagers of Down Ampney have earned a county-wide reputation of
fulfilling community projects which – from my experience with this
project – is fully justified.”

RDPE funding for the Down Ampney village hub is part of the
social and community enterprise theme to improve or maintain the
living conditions and welfare of those living in rural areas.

“Social enterprises are an effective means of delivering and
maintaining rural services,” said Andy Wood, head of place-making
and partnerships at the South West RDA, which manages RDPE in the
region.

“This social enterprise is already self-sustaining and the
project has the potential to build on this strength. It will also
contribute towards our regional aim of working towards a low-carbon
economy via the renewable energy features integrated within the
building and the purchase and management practices of the hub.”

James Lloyd, RDPE project development facilitator at
Gloucestershire First, who helped Gloucestershire Rural Community
Council in developing Down Ampney’s grant application said: This is
an excellent example of community working together to improve basic
services. I would encourage other rural community groups to take
advantage of the funding currently available.”

Ends

For further information, please contact Pat Murray, of the South
West RDA press office, on 07733264756