Boost for doomed shop

VILLAGERS fighting to keep their shop and post office open are being backed by planning officers.Alan and Judy Lewis announced in February that they wanted planning permission to turn their business in Ufford, near Woodbridge, into a house.

VILLAGERS fighting to keep their shop and post office open are being backed by planning officers.

Alan and Judy Lewis announced in February that they wanted planning permission to turn their business in Ufford, near Woodbridge, into a house.

They said that they had made several efforts to increase trade by advertising, sending out leaflets about their shop and post office, and making public appeals for support, but trade had not increased enough to make the business viable.

However, a planning report before Suffolk Coastal District Council on Wednesday asks councillors to refuse permission.

''It is not considered that an adequate case has been made to justify losing the village shop and post office and changing it to a dwelling. Detailed financial accounts have not been submitted within the application and there is no evidence that the property has been marketed as a going concern to enable someone else to try and run the facility.

''It also appears that there has not been an attempt to offer the shop and post office to be run by the community. There is also concern that the current opening hours do not give the shop its best opportunity to survive, particularly as it apparently is closed on Sunday morning and is not open at a time to catch early morning or early evening traffic.

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''It is considered that insufficient evidence has been put forward to show that the shop and post office is not or cannot be made financially viable or cannot be sold as a going concern,'' said the report.

This is Ufford's only shop and the parish council said it was an important amenity. There have been 12 letters of complaint and one campaigner said an offer to coordinate a strong marketing campaign at residents' cost to keep the business going had been declined.

Older residents said the shop was a meeting place for people who lived on their own and did not have transport and it acted as a social hub for the village.

Two letters of support were received, praising Mr and Mrs Lewis for their great efforts to improve the shop and provide a wider range of products.

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