Former newsagents brought back to life as community hub

A south Shropshire community has announced plans to transform a former newsagents in the town into a hub and bring it back to life.

A group of Bishop's Castle organisations are hoping to transform the old News Express building into a Community Hub
A group of Bishop's Castle organisations are hoping to transform the old News Express building into a Community Hub

The Bishop’s Castle and District Community Land Trust has bought 70 Church Street, a former newsagents, for community ownership.

Hope Robson, resident and activist, said she can’t wait to get started on the project bringing the old Stars Newsagents back to life in the centre of Bishop’s Castle.

Thursday marked the launch of the campaign, and the day the front door was unlocked for the first time since August 2015.

Laurence Hitchcock at the old newsagents in Bishop's Castle which has been bought by the community

“I’ve come to help take old posters off the windows and begin to get the place tidied up,” she said.

“The upstairs will be flats and we plan to create a community hub called Bishop’s Castle Thrive in the former newsagents, where people can make new contacts, ask for help, or find out about volunteering.

“It will be like having our very own Tardis! Because once you step the door, its scope is enormous.

A group of Bishop's Castle organisations are hoping to transform the old News Express building into a Community Hub. In Picture L>R: Hope Robson, Laurence Hitchcock and Jonathan Brown

"We can point you to the food bank, suggest ideas for getting work, tell you where to learn a new skill or just welcome you to have a chat.”

The purchase of the building at 70 Church Street is forming part of a larger scheme that, as well as accommodating Bishop’s Castle Thrive, will seek to provide a permanent base for the food bank in another empty building in the centre of the town.

Nothing has been done to care for the shop since it closed, and much of the structure is in a sorry state.

70 Church Street, Bishop's Castle

The trust needs to rise about £75,000 towards the cost of the work, and hopes to do this with donations and grant funding.

“We got 329 positive responses to our ‘Save the Stars’ webpage last autumn,” said the trust’s secretary Jonathan Brown.

“We hope that many of them, as well as those people wanting to see the heart of their town coming to life, will give what they can to help.”

People can support the appeal by going to www.bcclt.co.uk/donate.

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