Harborough district villagers say no to shop

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Most villages are keen to hang on to their facilities- their pub, their shop, their bus service.

“Use it or lose it” is the motto. But at one Harborough district settlement they’re fighting to prevent a shop coming to the village.

In fact, 230 villagers have signed a petition saying even if the proposed new shop is built, they will refuse to use it.

That village is Leire, north of Lutterworth. For the fourth time, an application has come in to Harborough District Council planners for a new village shop on a greenfield site off Frolesworth Lane. For the fourth time villagers have objected in numbers. For the fourth time planning councillors have refused planning permission - even though this time council officers recommended approval.

“This application has had more comebacks than Frank Sinatra,” said ward councillor Neil Bannister. “It’s time to say ‘enough is enough’.”

Leire villagers say ‘no’ to the shop because it will spoil the countryside - and, they say, it will never be profitable.

The second point is important. Villagers say they suspect the shop will quickly close, to be converted into housing.

Leire Parish Council’s Debbie Morgan said the shop scheme looked exactly like a barn conversion “which we believe is its eventual use”.

It’s also true to say that a village with more facilities, like a shop, can attract more houses.

Shop backer Ian Reid argued there was “no technical basis for refusing planning permission”.

But Leire will remain as it’s been since the last shop shut in 2006: the village that says ‘no’ to a village shop. This village shop anyway.