Plans to open a village shop in Broadwindsor are stepping up a gear after planners approved a change of use application for the old telephone exchange.

Villagers are now hard at work to get the building in Drimpton Road just how they want it after agreeing terms of a lease and appointing a new shop manager.

Fraser Hughes, chairman of the Broadwindsor and District Community Enterprise, said: “We were delighted that West Dorset District Council approved the application to allow retail use.

“Our vice-chairman, John Heys, worked extremely hard in preparing and submitting the application on behalf of Broadwindsor and District Community Enterprise.”

The lease of the shop has been signed by both parties in a flexible arrangement which means the premises can be rented for up to five years.

“We also have first option to buy the premises if they come up for sale,” Mr Hughes said.

Interviews for the post of shop manager took place last month, with Sue Williams, from Lyme Regis, being the successful applicant.

She has had extensive experience in running local shops, having had her own store in Lyme for 14 years.

Mr Hughes said: “After a period working as a teaching assistant in Thailand and locally, Sue is looking forward to the challenge of running the Broadwindsor Community Stores.”

Sue takes up her role on 21st January and is working with the committee to get the shop up and running as soon as possible.

Villagers banded together to open a new village shop after the one in the square closed in 2011.

A grant of nearly £30,000 from Chalk and Cheese was matched by money pledged by residents who bought shares in the community enterprise.

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