A bitter war of words has broken out in Dunshalt after plans to turn the village’s only shop into a house were turned down.
Pauline Pow ran the shop and post office in The Wynd until May this year, when she was forced to close due to lack of business.
She applied to Fife Council for permission to convert it for residential use but planning officials refused, saying the loss of the shop would ‘impact adversely on the vibrancy and health of the Dunshalt village community and would be contrary to the concept of maintaining sustainable comunities.’
The decision was welcomed by the Dunshalt community shop steering group, a campaign group set up to challenge Mrs Pow’s application.
The group says it would be ‘premature’ to consider turning the building into a house and wants to look at ways it could become a community-run facility.
Eleanor Porter, chairman of the steering group, said: “We welcome the council’s decision to refuse the application to convert the Dunshalt shop into a house.
“We are pleased that the planning officials acknowledged the strength of feeling in the village against the application and the impact of losing our only shop.
“We now hope the owners will be amenable to meeting with us to discuss the possibility of the community buying the shop.”
However, Mrs Pow said that had villagers used the shop more often when it was open she wouldn’t be in the position she’s in now.
She said that she couldn’t compete with online shopping and supermarket home delivery services.
“It’s funny that people in the village have been rallying around while the shop is officially closed,” said Mrs Pow.
“It’s a pity they didn’t use it when it was open.
“I know it shouldn’t be personal but it is hard when I know that one objection was from a regular customer who purchased a daily paper for 30p.
“Another collected mail without purchasing any goods and some customers just came in to use vouchers to save on the cost of daily papers.
“You tell me how this can sustain any business.
“It’s not fair that people are up in arms when they’re having their groceries delivered by Asda and Tesco. I feel very let down by Fife Council and by the community.”
The shop has been on the market since April last year but so far no-one’s shown any interest. Discussions are ongoing among the steering group about a possible community buy-out, but Mrs Pow says she hasn’t yet been approached and she would not be prepared to drop her asking price of around £78,000.