Owners reveal plans to turn village store into a home
By Nicky Carter - Reporter
OWNERS of a village post office and shop, who have been trying to sell the business for almost two years, have applied to turn the property into a residential home.
Adam and Karolina Alston moved from London to Cotherstone after purchasing the village shop and post office in 2016 from long-time owners Allen and Dorothy Christen.
The couple, who worked in retail management before relocating to Teesdale, have just been nominated for a prestigious countryside award for their efforts in keeping the shop and post office running for the second time in two years. They put the business on the market almost two years ago, but after lack of interest approached the parish council last year with the idea of a community buy out.
In a letter to the parish council last year Mr and Mrs Alston said they were reluctant to follow the advice of their estate agent to submit a change-of-use application, preferring to keep the property as a community shop.
However, six months after approaching the parish council, the couple have now submitted plans to change the use of the premises.
Mr Alston said: “The property is currently mixed use, with a shop floor occupying the front of the house. We would like to return this space back to residential use.
“The shop has been on the market since September 2018 with no interest.
“Prior to us buying it, it was on the market for the region of four years. We have approached the parish council to see if there is interest in a community buy out, which they are considering, along with moving the shop into the Methodist Chapel.”
Mr Alston added: “I don’t believe this change of use will have a detrimental effect on the village as either they will take on the shop in which case the application can simply lapse, or they will move the shop into the chapel, in which case the village will have a new shop and there will be no loss of services.”
In a letter of support for the application, Richard Robinson, owner of the Red Lion pub, said: “I’m a frequent user of the shop and post office, I value its role within our community and it would be a huge loss but as an investment I could not entertain it.
“Adam and Karolina have invested an abundance of time and money to make the business work for them yet still they have the property on the market.”
He added: “Cotherstone village shop and post office would make a beautiful home and as a long standing resident of Cotherstone I would strongly support this. Adam and Karolina have worked very hard in their efforts and deserve to escape financially unscathed. I believe converting to a residential home would bring them closer to this goal.”
Mr Alston said by seeking approval for the change of use it widened the market of prospective customers for the business
He added: “At the moment because the property is mixed use you could only ask for a commercial mortgage, which limits the amount of buyers.
“What I want to reassure residents of Cotherstone and further afield is even if the application gets approval it does not mean the shop and post office are going to close over night.
“If approved it will greatly improve the likelihood of us finally being able to sell the property and move on with our lives.”