Baptist chapel to become village shop

Witchford chapel to become shop

Application for permission to convert Baptist chapel at Witchford showed what the signage might look like. - Credit: ECDC

A former Baptist chapel – once the subject of an unsuccessful bid to secure it as an ‘asset of community value’ - is to become a village shop.  

It will provide an enlarged home for Witchford store and post office that will move in.  

East Cambridgeshire District Council accepted the owner’s submission that the current store “cannot cope with the demands of the community”.  

The owners said that when the chapel came up for sale “it seemed the most likely site.  

“With the Baptist Union being a charity, they have to manage for value and for the benefit of the community.  

“The people of Witchford contacted the Baptist Union in considerable numbers to express their views.  

“This in turn led to the Baptist Union supporting our sealed bid for the purchase over any others received regardless of price offered.” 

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The council was told how villagers had supported the move “and have been contributing in other ways.  

“For example, we phased out the use of plastic carrier bags several years ago in favour of the Morse bag idea.  

“These are reusable fabric bags made from material by us and our customers which we hand out to customers, who then bring them back time and time again.  

“Our intention is to carry this on in conjunction with a green loyalty scheme where customers will receive points for using Morse bags and visiting the shop on foot, by bicycle, not a car.  

The shop says their new premises include a wider range of sandwich and snack foods along with hot drinks but for take-away only.  

The application attracted 13 responses, 10 in support.  

The council noted that “Victorian chapels were important buildings in their communities and were designed with a gravitas appropriate to that public role: any signage should still respect their dignity”. 

And planning officers added: “While there is no parking proposed this situation is no worse than the existing situation for the Baptist Church. 

“A large number of people could attend regular services, meetings and events.  

“It is considered that the building is in a central position and easily accessible by foot or cycle.” 

Local councillor Bill Hunt said he had “fully supported” the application.