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Campaign to save 380-year-old Itteringham Community Shop thrown a lifeline

PUBLISHED: 09:55 22 April 2017 | UPDATED: 11:26 22 April 2017

A new bench is unveiled in honour of the Fairhead family, who ran the Itteringham village shop. Now the community-run shop is under threat of closure.  The family and the local community gather outside the shop.  Picture: NICK BUTCHER

A new bench is unveiled in honour of the Fairhead family, who ran the Itteringham village shop. Now the community-run shop is under threat of closure. The family and the local community gather outside the shop. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

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A campaign to save one of the oldest shops in Norfolk from closure has been thrown a lifeline.

Itteringham Community Shop, which has served the community for 380 years, faces an uncertain future after the current tenants were served with an eviction notice - giving them until October 8 to move out.

This week it emerged that the landlords had tabled a verbal offer to sell the shop and attached house to the Itteringham Community Association (ICA), which runs the business, following behind-the-scenes talks.

However, at a public meeting in the Bure Valley Community Centre, local residents voted to support the association’s fight to remain in the premises, which includes a post office, until the threat of eviction is lifted, while continuing to investigate alternative sites in case talks or fundraising fails.

The eviction notice was served by Hayes and Storr Solicitors on behalf of landlords, Gary and Hannah Applin.

Local residents were asked to choose whether to fight to stay put, accept the eviction notice or close immediately with a view to reopening when or if new premises can be found.

Organisers have warned that a campaign to keep the shop open could cost upwards of £50,000 while closing immediately could leave the community without a shop for the next five years.

Steven Burbidge, vice-chairman of the ICA management committee, said: “The preferred choice was to fight to stay in the unique premises we have been in for the last 380 years, while also making back-up plans to temporarily move to a site at the village hall while a new permanent location was found.

“A fourth option was also revealed on the night – the landlords had been in discreet negotiations and had tabled a verbal offer to sell the shop and attached house to the ICA. While this is a potential lifeline, as the eviction notice hasn’t been withdrawn, the six-month deadline still stands for the ICA to vacate the premises.

“It is the committee’s intention that negotiations should continue to try and bring this to fruition.

“The attention of the committee now turns to the fundraising required to achieve the asking price for the premises in order to secure the future of one of the longest continuously trading village shops nationwide.”

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