From: Anthony Staples, Chair Frittenden Parish Council
When our small village shop closed in March 2019 Frittenden Parish Council was very concerned at the impact its closure would have on the elderly and those without cars as there is no public transport serving the village centre. Despite its small size the shop had also been an informal community meeting point. Its closure was a significant loss to the village.
As a council we have been pleased to see the development of a proposal for a small community shop and café operating from attractive, purpose-built premises in the centre of the village. The shop would meet residents’ needs for daily shopping essentials and the café would provide a daytime facility for people to meet socially over a coffee. The use of volunteers from within the village will draw on and enhance the strong community spirit in Frittenden. So in a number of different ways this Community Shop and Café will enrich village life.
We believe that the steering committee has carefully researched this project and come up with a realistic business plan. There have been significant pledges of funding, much from within the village, and a number of parishioners have already volunteered to help staff the shop. As a Parish Council we therefore strongly support this proposal for a community shop and café which will be a valuable amenity for our village.
From: Sarah Davies, Head of Frittenden Pre-School
Frittenden Preschool is in the heart of the village and has (on average) 24 families enrolled, with a mix of local village children and those from surrounding villages attending.
The community shop and café will be a great addition to Frittenden, and I think will be extremely useful to our families. Our opening times vary slightly from the school, so having a place to go for parents to have a quick cuppa or grab some essentials whilst dropping off/ picking up will be handy. Or just to get together for some much- needed socialisation post pandemic. It would be lovely for staff to walk over with the children to buy snack items too.
But I think hearing what the littlest people of the village have to say on the subject would be best here:
“I love shops and I love sweeties, shops with sweeties are the best”
“Will the café have hot chocolate? I get hot chocolate sometimes with mummy”
“I go to cafes, I always get sausage and chips but sometimes I get nuggets.”
“We go to a café, and it has toys to play with and it has cake, this café needs toys…and cake.”
“Can we go to it now please.”
From: A School Mum…
For us as a family the village shop will be a big bonus to our day to day life, and in particular it’s location close to the school. The convenience of it as a (disorganised!) working parent is important – being able to grab what you need either end of a school run or on the way back from work will be brilliant, and then of course the all important ice cream for a walk home from school in the summer! I like the fact you can walk there and reduce car journeys – both from a green perspective but also fuel costs and wrestling kids in and out of car seats! I hope it will stock local produce (preferably with less packaging). A village shop provides a meeting place and opportunities for social interactions that make village life so special. The cafe if it goes ahead would be a huge bonus for all ages within the village – Somehwere to socialise and a pit stop for bike rides, scoots and skating!
From: An elderly resident…
Regarding the proposed Frittenden Community Stores and the team organising this scheme, I would urge you to give them all the support you can. I write this as one of those who will be in need of this store when it is up and running. I am over 80 years old and as the years go on I seem to be gathering more health problems that can make living in a village very isolating. During the first lockdown my wife died so since then I have lived alone. My doctor has concerns over my vulnerability, health wise, so I tend not to go out so much as I did. Frittenden does not have any form of public transport and so far I have been able to drive short distances to nearby villages to get my food needs ( I enjoy cooking and do not buy in ‘ready-meals’). However I have had a car accident recently and that has unnerved me somewhat so that I shall be leaving the village less often.
I am not the only person in this situation I feel sure, so the provision of a community store will allow me to do my shopping locally, diminish my need to be driving elsewhere, and also act as a social hub for those of us who enjoy a cup of coffee and a chat. Many of us have made sacrifices to support the project financially but without your extra help I fear that all the team’s efforts will be in vain.
PLEASE HELP US TO KEEP OUR HOMES IN THE VILLAGE WE LOVE BY SUPPORTING THIS PROJECT.
I trust you will regard this as a great social initiative on the part of an enthusiastic team of villagers who recognise the good that can come from it.
From: A retired couple…
We think that since Covid; living in this village for 50 years and now with no bus service, no garage, and no Village Shop and with the huge increase in petrol prices we would ALL benefit from a Community Store. It would be a central point in our village to meet others and buy locally and as we are both pensioners on a reduced budget it would make all the difference to our lives and others.
From: A working Mum…
I feel stronger now than ever (since the huge fuel price increase) that I would support and use a village shop and café and I have been resident for most of my 50 years in Frittenden and work part time here too. In the last month I have tried to not venture out as it is too expensive to drive anywhere unnecessarily and my cupboards are becoming barer as I am using up old stocks. I would use our village shop regularly if fresh produce was available and at a cost suitable to my income. I and many of my friends love a coffee and cake on a regular basis and as Frittenden is an absolute joy for dog walks and ramblers, I feel a café would have good support from parents at the school too, where I work, as they often have a coffee in hand while dropping off their children. During Covid I helped a few residents get groceries but as they had special dietary requirements, I sadly had to venture further out to meet their needs otherwise I would have supported Stable Stores much more and as I work further afield with another job, I was passing the supermarket anyway and sometimes Stable Stores was not open when I finished work so could not get what I needed. Also the view out of the back of the Memorial Hall where the potential shop & café is absolutely wonderful at all times of the year and would be a magnet for people to take in the view with a cuppa in hand and rest up after a dog walk, bike ride or ramble.
I have pledged some money but may be able to stretch a bit more when the time comes. Please let me know. All the best to all the hard workers who have done so much already! I am really excited about it all; it could not come soon enough!
From: Nic Costello, Head of Frittenden Church of England Primary School
The Frittenden community desperately needs the community shop and cafe. It will be a life-line that, at the moment, is sadly lacking in our village; I believe it is vital to the majority of people who have made Frittenden their home. This shop will be all the more important, as it is for the village, run by the village. It will instil a stronger sense of community for all of us. I know that many of the older residents miss the social interaction from visiting the shop and having a chat. This shop is needed for emotional well-being. As a school, we miss being able to take the children down to the shop and buy provisions: they learn so many skills from small interactions such as visiting a shop. It will also benefit staff, who can use the shop – presently we have to go to Staplehurst or Cranbrook – not at all practical during the day.
From: a Villager
Frittenden benefits from an extraordinarily healthy and vibrant community spirit. I have witnessed countless examples of this in the 35 years since we were lucky enough to move here, but none more so than through the potential crisis of the COVID pandemic in a place where the nearest food store of any sort, chemist or doctor’s surgery was at least 3 miles away. The proposed community store and coffee shop will be an ideal way of providing services to those who cannot drive as well as creating a hub for people of all ages to meet and socialise. There will be significant demand from those collecting or dropping off children at the school or playgroup as well as from more elderly people who are alone or unable to travel outside the village, through which no public transport runs. The project has a very experienced group leading it and will be an extremely valuable addition to the village.
From: a Villager
When we first moved to Frittenden from London 27 years ago, there was a shop and bakery right in the heart of the village and we definitely regarded this as a major plus point. It was fantastic being able to walk to the shop rather than having to use the car to drive outside of the village, and ‘popping to Mack’s shop’ was definitely something which both our young children loved to do for a number of years.
There was definitely a sadness in the village when the shop closed, as it really was so much more than a village store. The sense of Frittenden’s shop being far more than a small ‘commercial space’ was also definitely true of Acorns Village Stores, which again represented an informal meeting point for many members of the community. When this closed its doors in 2019 there was once again a palpable sense of loss, particularly amongst the elderly and those without cars, as the village is no longer served by any form of public transport.
When Stable Stores opened during the pandemic it really did offer a life-line to these same members of our wonderful community and also made other villagers, who often hadn’t used our previous village shops, aware of the enormous benefits of having a well-run, well-stocked store in the heart of Frittenden. At a time when both concerns for the environment and extortionate fuel prices are forcing us to re-consider the way in which we use our cars, the ability to walk not only to a village shop but also a café would be a huge bonus.
The location of the proposed community stores and café is ideal – right next to the village hall which is used for a variety of events, attended by both those who live in Frittenden as well as non-villagers and a couple of minutes’ walk from the primary school, pre-school and church.
Planning has also recently been granted for 23 new houses in Frittenden, which will again be located a few minutes’ walk away along the Cranbrook Road. I have no doubt that having a shop and café within walking distance would be a major draw for all these new villagers and would support the increasing desire for ‘sustainable development’.
It is evident that a huge amount of thought and effort has been put into this project. Therefore, for it not to get the final level of funding it requires would be a major blow, not just to the team who have spent so many hours working tirelessly to try and make this happen, but also to the villagers of Frittenden, who are genuinely excited at the prospect of gaining two valuable amenities for our close-knit rural community.
From: A Villager
A Community Shop is even more essential in Frittenden, as we have lost another village asset, Forge Garage. The only gathering places left are the Hall, the Church and the pub, but the pub doesn’t have a garden for families to enjoy their drinks in a relaxing environment. We have no public transport and there are to be new houses built on the edge of the village, so a Community Shop and Cafe with outside decking would be a valuable asset to the village for villagers and visitors to use. The school brings a lot of families to the village, and they use the equipment in the Parish Field, as well as lonely isolated elderly residents that would greatly benefit from it, improving their quality of life.