Ecology Building Society has teamed up with the Plunkett Foundation to launch a bespoke mortgage package specifically for community-owned shops. The initiative aims to tackle the lack of services and isolation in rural areas.
According to the organisations, around 400 commercial village shops close each year. This has an impact on the whole local community as these shops can offer sustainable shopping alternatives for local people and respond to the needs of the community. Ecology argues that they allow areas to secure the provision of essential services.
Around 140 new community shops have opened in the last five years and could benefit from lending that is tailored to their needs.
Paul Ellis, chief executive of Ecology, said, “Community shops make a vital contribution to building a more sustainable society: regenerating the local economy, increasing the local economy, increasing democratic control, reducing loneliness and even saving car journeys.
“We want to use our expertise in lending to co-operatives and community groups to help even more people to secure the future of their local shop.”
The new mortgage will only be available to organisations that are members of, or receiving advice from, the Plunkett Foundation, a national organisation that supports the development of community-owned shops across the UK. Both new and existing community shops can access the mortgage package on terms from 10 to 30 years.
Peter Couchman, chief executive of the Plunkett Foundation, commented, “This is a great offer for rural communities looking to buy their village shop, and, will help to fund start-up enterprises.”