Lord Roberts shop and Post Office
04/10/2016 23:34:00......Posted by Luke Clancy
I attended a meeting tonight at which Webb Estate residents discussed a proposal to purchase a 150-year lease on the Lord Roberts shop in Upper Woodcote Village.
The residents have feared the loss of their much-loved post office, opened by William Webb in 1907, since plans emerged to sell if off. But residents are fighting back with a plan of their own, led ably by David Mullarkey, Webb Estate Limited chairman.
The plan is to set up a Community Benefit Society to administer the Lord Roberts as a community asset. Mr Mullarkey proposes purchasing the lease for around £150,000, with subscriptions from local residents ranging from £1,000 to £10,000. Each ‘share’ - regardless of the sum contributed - entitles the shareholder to one vote under the rules of the Community Benefit Society legal entity.
It is hoped a tenant shopkeeper can then be found to run the shop at a profit, and it is anticipated the return on investment for shareholders could be in the region of 2% over base rate per annum.
Residents at the meeting on a show of hands demonstrated an overwhelming majority in favour of proceeding with the proposal.
However, Mr Mullarkey outlined a number of risks that investors should take into consideration. For example, the floor space of the current shop will see a reduction in overall space from 140 sq m to 80 sq m in order to accommodate a residential development - this will entail storage at the shop reducing from 80 sq m to 20 sq m and could make the shop unattractive to a future leaseholder as a going concern. In addition, importantly for residents who value the current use as a Post Office, the license for its continued use as a Post Office would be conditional on a successful application for that use being granted to the new shopkeeper by the Post Office.
Mr Mullarkey estimates the group of residents have 6-8 weeks to find £150,000 for the lease in order to seal the deal.
An alternative would be to buy the site outright but this would cost anywhere in the region of £1.3 million and is not thought feasible.
Local residents who would like to discuss the financing proposal can contact Mr Mullarkey on firstname.lastname@example.org