Broadwindsor residents are now planning to open a community store in the old telephone exchange after problems negotiating a lease for the empty shop in the square.

Broadwindsor and District Community Enterprise chairman Fraser Hughes told more than 100 shareholders at a meeting in the Comrades Hall on Tuesday 30 October that the current owners of the shop in the square were not in a position to look at a lease until at least February 2013.

“The committee’s view was that in these circumstances it would not be possible to open a shop on this site until at least June 2013,” he said.

Mr Hughes said swift action had been needed to find another site, otherwise a £29,000 grant from Chalk and Cheese would be lost. Villagers have already raised £33,000 to help re-open the shop, which has been closed for more than a year.

“We have been fortunate enough to find another site at the old telephone exchange in Drimpton Road, which until recently housed a small print business,” he said.

“Negotiations have been conducted with the owners of the building and we are close to signing a five-year lease, with break clauses after one year. However, the building will need change of use approval and we have applied to West Dorset District Council for this, with a decision expected in early December.”

If successful, the bulk of the grant would be secure.

Mr Hughes said: “The shop in the square remains the ultimate goal and once the current owners have resolved their situation, we can re-open negotiations.”

Shareholders unanimously backed the plan of the committee, whose members were thanked for the amount of work they have put in so far. Mr Hughes said

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