How it all came about
The last convenience shop in Otterton closed in 2004. At that time a small group of villagers tried to save it but did not succeed. Then in 2011, when East Budleigh Village was planning to move its community shop from a portacabin into their new purpose-built building, a member of its management committee suggested that Otterton Village might like to take over the portacabin to start its own community shop.
Out of this suggestion, Viv Price, an Otterton Villager, and John Edmonds, the then Chairman of the Parish Council, agreed to work together to see if such a project was feasible. A survey was undertaken in 2012 which showed overwhelming support for the establishment of a village shop; 55 villagers offered to help in the shop while 80 offered to purchase £50 bonds and 28 people offered to provide specialist help. A management committee was then formed.
Various locations for the shop were investigated including space in the Village Hall and locating the portacabin in the car park of the Kings Arms Hotel, but none were considered feasible. In mid-2012, the Committee were approached by the Vicar of St Michaels and All Angels Church in Otterton to see if they would consider locating the shop in the Church as its PCC was considering re-ordering the Church into a community centre. After discussions with the PCC the shop management committee agreed to this suggestion and several members of the Committee joined a steering group which employed an architect to produce plans and designs for the projrct. After 18 months, plans were agreed in principle. However, in the meantime it became apparent that substantial repairs were needed to the church roof and until repair work was completed it would not be feasible to proceed. As a consequence, the Committee decided to re-examine the possibility of locating the shop within the Village Hall.
After a number of meetings the snooker club offered use of the snooker room. Negotiations took place, planning consent obtained and a lease was evetually signed on 15 September 2014. Work to refurbish the snooker room began in late September and was completed in late November. The Otterton Community Shop opened for trading on 1st December 2014.
Throughout this period, villagers, volunteers and the Management Committee members were busy raising funds to cover the costs of starting up a Shop. The Village and members of the management committee are extremely grateful to the following people and organisations which gave or raised funds to establish the Shop;
- Big Lottery Fund
- Devon County Council
- East Devon AONB Sustainable Development Fund.
- East Devon District Council
- Exmouth Rotary Club
- Ladram Bay Holiday Park
- Norman Family Charitable Trust
- Otterton Community Shop Shareholders
- Otterton Parish Council
- Otterton Village Hall Committee
- Plunkett Foundation
- Western Power
The Otterton Community raised over £14,000 through events and the purchase of shares in the community shop. There are over 100 shareholders each with a minimum of one £10 share.
In addition, the OCS Management Committee received splendid advice and support from David Fisher of the Plunkett Foundation, from other established community shops, in particular, East Budleigh Village Shop and Ilsington Community Shop, as well as Ide and Plymtree Community Shops. All told £43,000 was raised to get this project underway.