A refurbished barn in Blackboys has been opened as a sparkling new village shop and meeting place.
Funding from the Wealden And Rother Rural Partnership (WARR) helped bring about the return of the shop in the village - after the community’s last business closed a couple of years ago.
Called the Grove, the shop, in Brownings Farm Workshops, focuses on locally sourced produce and also serves as a social hub.
In addition it is helped along its way thanks to constant consultation with the community, from asking what local residents want to see in stock via Facebook, to holding an open day last November attended by 250 people who saw the initial plans and gave feedback.
The owners have shaped their plans with local input and are planning to organise cooking workshops for children in the summer as well as regular events for older people in the village.
David Phillip, planning chief at Wealden District Council, said: “In recent years, Blackboys has seen the closure of its post office, village stores and local butcher; the resulting loss of both the facilities, and the meeting points they provided which had had a significant impact on the community.
“This new business will bring a much needed community focal point to the village as well as a boost to the local economy.”
The business is based on a philosophy of ‘local, fresh and ethical’, with the shop focusing on locally-sourced food products from across the Wealden and Rother districts as well as essential supplies.
The high quality café provides cooked and continental breakfasts, lunches and afternoon teas, with seasonal daily specials and a children’s menu with both indoor and outdoor seating.
This enterprise was significantly funded by a grant of from the EU’s Rural Development Programme for England, administered in East Sussex through the Wealden And Rother Rural Partnership.
This money was used for converting the location and fitting essential equipment.
The business provides employment for six people.
Wealden District Council is one of a number of bodies which supports the WARR partnership, which provides financial support to rural businesses within the Wealden and Rother area.
“We are delighted with how things have gone so far,” said Andrew Doherty, one of the partners in The Grove.
“We are listening to what local residents are telling us and doing everything we can to give back to the local community.”