Pioneering community shop opens at Thakeham’s Woodgate development

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A pioneering community-owned shop, placed at the heart of Thakeham’s Woodgate development near Pease Pottage in West Sussex, has opened its doors.

The launch is a significant milestone in a trailblazing partnership between leading local developer Thakeham and national charity Plunkett UK.

The first of its kind, the newly-opened Woodgate Community Shop has been built by Thakeham and gifted to the community to be run as a community-owned business, for the benefit of residents at Woodgate and Pease Pottage.

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Thakeham is an industry-leading housebuilder and developer in the south of England, committed to creating sustainable homes and strong communities. Together with Plunkett UK, which specialises in supporting people in rural areas to set up and run successful businesses in community ownership, the two organisations have collaborated to ensure the community has access to help and support to create a flourishing community store.

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The unique partnership provides a blueprint for creating similar businesses at future Thakeham developments with the shared goal to create sustainable, thriving and inclusive communities.

The Woodgate Community Shop will operate as a ‘community business’, a not-for-profit business that is owned and run by the local community. The local community can buy a ‘share’ in the business, become a member and have genuine say on how the business runs.

Day-to-day the store is run by an employed manager and volunteers, supported by a voluntary committee of local people. The community group is responsible for running the business in the long-term, making key governance decisions. Any profit will be invested back into the community to support good causes or community projects.

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Rob Boughton, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, from Thakeham said: “At Woodgate we are creating a stronger community and not just a series of homes. The new shop will be a place for the wider Pease Pottage community to stock up on their essentials, right next to the café and community hub.

"Huge thanks to the fantastic efforts of the committee, the community at Woodgate and Plunkett for their efforts. Delivering this shop and the wider Woodgate homes and facilities has been a decade-long labour of love for me and all of the team of Thakeham and I’m absolutely delighted to see it open.”

James Alcock, Chief Executive Officer, from Plunkett UK said: “Plunkett congratulates the residents involved with the project and looks forward to seeing the shop blossom at the heart of the Woodgate community. We are grateful for the opportunity to have been involved with the project and thank Thakeham for partnering with us to help create this pioneering shop.

"Community businesses are often created in response to market failure, so to see one proactively created to promote inclusivity and integration at the heart of a new community is truly something exciting. This is a big part of the future of community business.”

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Nick Harris, Chair of the Woodgate Community Shop Committee said: “It has been hard work getting to this point but we cannot wait to serve our community! From today, we look forward to providing a shop for our community to be proud of, offering the range of services our community needs most. Whether you need us for your essentials, a midweek ‘top up’ shop or simply to meet with neighbours, our doors are open and we look forward to welcoming you.”

The Woodgate Community Shop is the final instalment and cornerstone to Thakeham’s new village community.

Located three miles from Crawley and seven miles from historic Horsham, the award-winning development of 619 homes is being built in partnership with housing provider Abri and due for completion early 2025.

It features a state-of-the-art primary school, community hub with meeting rooms and café, and St Catherine’s Hospice. A large village green takes centre stage, with play areas, trails, pathways and cycle routes linking to the neighbouring 370-acre Tilgate Forest.

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The shop joins a growing movement of nearly 800 community businesses represented by Plunkett UK-wide. Around half of these are shops, founded on the same basis as Woodgate – putting community needs and interests at the heart of their operation.

Woodgate Community Shop is open daily and stocks a huge range of products from everyday groceries to freshly baked goods and locally-sourced items.

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