After just over a year of fundraising efforts, work begins today on clearing the way for Fittleworth’s much anticipated community shop and playground area.
The first step of the project will see the old playground next to the village hall removed to make way for the new facilites after funds topped £403,000.
Residents raised have bought shares in the shop company, which has been supported with grants from various organisations including Chichester District Council, with hopes of opening in October.
Chris Welfare, chairman of Fittleworth Parish Council, said: “We are delighted that the really ambitious funding target to create a new community shop and playground in the village has been met.
“The parish council has done what it can to facilitate and support the shop project (particularly by enabling a corner of the Recreation Ground to be used) but most credit must go to the shop team, led by Alison Welterveden.
“They have shown tremendous energy and imagination to inspire enthusiasm for the project, and to tackle the immense amount of work that such a complex operation entails. “Thanks are also due to the funding bodies, such as Chichester District Council, who have provided generous grants, and last (but by no means least) to the remarkable generosity of the people of Fittleworth and nearby, who have dug deep into their pockets to support the project.
“We are very excited that by the end of 2018 we should have a village shop again!”
Alison Welterveden said the first step was to carefully dismantle the old play equipment so it could be used elsewhere.
All parts of the old equipment are to be reused at various locations including another community playground, the village school and a home education centre, with other pieces going to individuals caring for children with disabilities.
She said: “Our community shop, new playground and youth area will create a real focal point for our village – a new village hub and a place to be used and enjoyed by many different age groups.
“We have been staggered by the way in which our community rose to the challenge of raising the funding we needed for the project and are hugely grateful to all those who have shared our vision, including grant funders such as Chichester District Council, without whom the project would not be able to happen.”
It is hoped the shop will open by October 2018. The shop and café will then be open 8.30am-5.30pm Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm on Saturday and 9.30am-12.30pm on Sunday.
A notice on the parish council website from the shop company is advising that the village hall car park next to the site should not be affected by the works, with contractors accessing the site via School Lane.
It reads: “We hope that you will bear with us whilst the build takes place. For safety reasons we have had to remove the existing playground and close off that area of the recreation ground for the duration of the build.
“We know the children will miss having their play space over the summer but we are sure that the new playground and youth area – which will open at the same time as the shop and café in the autumn – will more than make up for it.”
Questions or concerns about any aspect of the building works can be directed to Mick Foote (01798 865156/07774 962036).