Village shop “invaluable” during pandemic

A Borders village shop which has provided a lifeline to the community it serves during the Covid-19 pandemic is set to have its lifespan extended until a £350,000 memorial hall refurbishment is completed.

By Paul Kelly
Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 1:09 pm
Updated Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 1:09 pm
Oxton Community Shop. Photo: Bill McBurnie.
Oxton Community Shop. Photo: Bill McBurnie.

Just before Covid restrictions were brought in back in early March 2020 the long-sought transformation and extension of Oxton Memorial Hall was finally approved.

The work on the hall, built in 1924 to honour the village’s war dead, included its conversion into a community hub with new toilets, kitchen facilities and meeting space.

The extension into an adjoining field meant that Oxton Community Shop, housed in a portable cabin next door, could relocate into the hall, more than doubling its size.

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But because of the restrictions over the last two years work on the refurbishment is still continuing.

This has led to a planning bid being submitted to Scottish Borders Council to extend the lifespan of the vital Portakabin retail outlet for another four years.

The shop has been a godsend over the pandemic and has been deemed the village’s “most valuable asset”.

In a submitted statement with the planning bid, Francois du Plessis, on behalf of Oxton and Channelkirk Community Council, says: “The community shop has proved to be invaluable to the community, especially so during th Covid-19 pandemic.

“During a recent survey for the Community Action Plan, the shop was voted the most valuable asset in the village.

“Plans have been approved to relocate the shop into the Memorial Hall. An extension of planning permission and change of use is required until the hall refurbishment is completed.

“The time-scale for this is currently unknown.”