‘The village shop closed years ago, and there was nowhere for people to meet.’

Talking shop: Robert Ashton on a community venture

'One part of the facility is now a medium secure unit. It houses young men who have been referred by the criminal justice system.' | Photo: courtesy of Robert Ashton.

I recently visited a community-owned shop and café in Little Plumstead, on the day that it started trading. ‘The Walled Garden’ is a work in progress. A café and shop are already open where locals and visitors can enjoy coffee, cake and conversation. The business sits between a primary school and parish church; 300 new homes are being built in the grounds of the hall that once stood here.

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