With the weather gods looking kindly upon us, our builder Paul Smyth and his team made good progress through April and May on the Pavilion’s extension. The foundations and floor slab were laid and construction of the walls got underway. But as you’ll have no doubt heard, the building trade is generally very busy, materials are in short supply, professional advisers are dealing with a backlog and suppliers are struggling with full order books. Lately the continuing headwinds caused by the pandemic, and the requirement for isolation among ‘pinged’ people, have also contributed to longer than expected lead times.
The design of the new building includes a glazed oak frame for the end elevation that faces out over the field. Building control required us to find a structural engineer to calculate roof loading on the frame but the situation outlined above caused further frustration – finding an engineer available to do the calculations and provide additional detailed drawings proved a real challenge. Fortunately, our incredibly resourceful community came to the rescue and a new resident to the village (an architect) helped us locate and engage a suitably qualified engineer. With his calculations in hand, we are now waiting for the fabricated oak truss to be delivered from the joiners. With the frame and other materials scheduled for delivery in the third week of August, work can continue to remove the existing roof, allowing the new slate roof to be fixed in place. We can then start fitting out a dry building.
On finances the Trust reopened the share offer briefly in April, successfully raising an additional £19,410 from new and existing investors. This figure includes an equity match by our partners at the Co-Op and the Booster programme and brings the total from share investments to £144,700 plus a further £2,320 from the Crowdfunder in November last year. In addition, the Parracombe Community Trust Shop Committee has been applying for grant funding and in July received confirmation of a grant from the Princes Countryside Fund of £9,870 to supplement the first year’s salary of the shop manager position.
On the renewable energy installation the Trust has also received a grant from Exmoor Trust of £7,525 and £2,000 from the parish council towards the purchase of the photovoltaic panels, battery storage and electric vehicle recharge point.
Our plans last year had included some refurbishment to village hall facilities and included grants from North Devon Council and Devon County Council for equipment. Due to the hall being closed it was decided, with approval from NDDC and DCC, to reallocate these funds – £2,445 in total to equip the café. The additional capital funding and grant from the PCF means we have secured all funding we set out to find for the build and equipment, along with enough working capital to support the business in its early months.
The Shop Committee is currently working on the job description for a shop manager and preparing for volunteer recruitment. Look out for the job advertisement and if you’re interested in either the manager position or volunteering please contact Jo Harrison for more details. Meanwhile, considerable background work is continuing such as setting up point-of-sale technology, evaluating security measures and accounting protocols and ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements for running a food retailing and café business.
There are still plenty of hurdles to overcome and no doubt there will be events beyond our control. But our ambition remains as focused as ever, We are looking to complete building work by late October, have the premises fitted out in November, start training and stocking shelves that same month and be open for business ready to welcome customers ahead of Christmas. There is plenty of hard work ahead but, with your support, we can now look forward to a community shop and café truly fit for a brilliant community.