Little shop means a great deal to village community

IT is only a little shop in the heart of a small community far away from the noise and bluster of the larger urban lifestyle.

But The Village Shop on Coldharbour Road is considered to be the hub which makes Upper Dicker tick and gives it an identity which is more than just a collection of houses, according to many villagers living there.

A stream of supportive letters was sent to Wealden District Council after hard-working proprietor Tess Flower asked the authority to allow a change of use to ‘A3’ in part of the permises - as previously reported in the Sussex Express.

Miss Flower also asked to be allowed to play low-level background music and said the shop needed to continue as a cafe to survive the nationwide recession storm.

She believed that her small business would die unless it was allowed to diversify – despite some objections by a minority of residents.

In a latest planning statement, she wrote: “It is in the interest of both the village and our business to protect the heritage. We have a great interest in the history and future of this as a village shop which continues to evolve within its community.”

There had been a ‘breakdown of communication’ with some village folk about the plans, she said, adding: “I feel there are real positive steps being taken to re-build relationships and move forward in a direction that accommodates all concerned parties.

“ We have put a stop to cafe nights and will be instigating some practical ideas to help with parking or access issues.

“Furthermore we will carry on communications with our neighbours and continue to extend a warm welcome to all who wisht o comment.”

Miss Flower considered it ‘entirely reasonable’ for a shop or cafe to play background music, saying: “All local shops and cafes we know of are allowed to do so and it leaves us with an unfair disadvantage if we are not allowed to create a nice ambience that all diners would these days expect.

“Music played at a reasonable level is not audible from any of our neighbours’ properties.”

Wealden’s Planning Committee South approved the application subject to a suitable improved ventilation system being fitted to remove cooking odours. Opening hours were also amended to weekdays: 7.30am to 7.30pm; Saturdays: 8am to 7.30pm and Sundays: 8am to 6pm.