Sherston’s old village school building has been given a new lease of life.
The handsome Victorian edifice in Sherston High Street has stood empty since February 2005, when it was made redundant by the opening of the new village school.
It has now been acquired for the village by Sherston Old School Community Interest Company (SOSCIC) and Wiltshire Council has given planning permission that will allow the building to be used to provide a range of goods, services and activities for the good of the community.
The first step along this path will be the provision of space for a new enlarged post office and general store. Following this, there will be a number of units available to let within the building. It’s envisaged that these will be taken up by shops, offices and businesses of various kinds, with the possibility of some space also being available for non-commercial community use. The vision is for the Old School to be a hive of activity, providing a range of goods and services in the centre of the village.
To turn this vision into reality, SOSCIC has received generous grants and donations including significant amounts from two locally based charitable trusts. They are the Eleanor Barton Trust and the Sam Thompson Fund.
Grants have also come from the old North Wiltshire District Council and Wiltshire Council. The first outside body to support the project was the Malmesbury and Villages Community Partnership (MVCAP), whose grant paid for initial publicity and consultation costs.
A £250,000 loan has been obtained by the parish council from the Public Works Loans Board to be repaid over 50 years by rental income from the Old School.
The parish council has agreed a grant of £2000 to enable SOSCIC to meet some initial costs, such as insurance. However, council taxpayers have not had to pay anything towards the acquisition of the building, and the intention is that they should not have to pay anything towards its maintenance. Both the parish council and SOSCIC have set out to avoid the need for any increase in the parish precept.
The cost of the first phase of the project to include the area for the new post office and general store is some £700,000 which covers the original purchase of the entire site as well as building and professional fees. Further grant funding is being sought for the cost of the additional building works and fees to complete the second and final phase.
All Sherston residents are invited to become involved in the revitalisation of the old school by becoming members of the Community Interest Company.
Many remember the days when the High Street had its butcher and baker, and maybe not a candlestick maker but certainly numerous other traders. SOSCIC plans to put something like that back into the village. It’s a step towards making Sherston more self-sufficient and cutting down on those petrol-guzzling trips to town.
For further information contact Martin Rea Vice Chairman Sherston Parish Council on 01666 840348 or 07887 814843 email firstname.lastname@example.org
To read more about the project – Special Old School Edition of the Cliffhanger
To join SOSCIC download an application form – SOSCIC Application Form