A 380-year old village shop is facing closure as landlords shut the premises for “substantial building and renovation work”.
Tenants of the shop in the North Norfolk village of Itteringham, which has operated since 1637, have received an eviction notice for 8 October.
In a statement to The Grocer, owners Mr and Mrs G Applin said they “inherited” problems with the lease and physical problems with the building, which mean that renovation work must be completed to comply with fire, sound and health and safety issues.
The potential closure has provoked concern among the village, which is home to many pensioners and old farm workers and has little public transport, with the closest supermarket situated five miles away in Aylsham.
Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat MP for North Norfolk and former government minister, has already issued his support to keep the shop open for the community.
The local community has formed a Save our Shop committee, which last Wednesday voiced support for buying the premises in its first meeting. The property was given status as an Asset of Community Value by North Norfolk District Council in March 2017, meaning if it goes up for sale the community has six months to raise funds for a purchase.
Save our Shop committee treasurer Chris Lawrence said the shop, café and part-time Post Office was an important focal point of the community, as well as a vital service for tourists.
“We will get fundraising together. The shop committee has now had its public meeting and the village have said yes to try and buy it,” he said.
If buying the site is not possible, the committee will consider other options such as setting up a shop in new premises, he said.
Gil Stead, whose grandparents and parents ran the shop for over 80 years, voiced her upset over the potential closure.
“My mum and dad ran the shop until 1994 when my dad died. The community have now been running it since 1994. The loss of the shop would be massive for the community. I am upset that they are considering getting rid of the premises,” she said.
Landlords Mr and Mrs G Applin said: “We have previously been advised by our tenants that the space currently available for the shop is too small and alternative premises were being looked at in order for the shop to expand.
“We are aware that the future of the shop is an emotive issue for the village and we understand the impact that the closure of the shop will have on the local community. We have made various proposals to our tenants but these have unfortunately been rejected.
“It is essential that the work is carried out to the building as soon as possible and we do hope that alternative premises are able to be found for the shop. We will continue to assist our tenants to facilitate the move.”