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Ideas call for ‘community space’ as Mill Street Wantage revival continues

Wantage will soon have a town centre community space in a refurbished shop unit – and local groups are being invited to put forward ideas about how it could be used.

Wantage’s town team have reached agreement with the landlords of Units 13 and 15 Mill Street (the old Chameleon Drinks shop and its neighbour) on a six-month lease for local group Sustainable Wantage. They will be making number 15 available for community groups and organisations to use, once it’s refurbished. Number 13 will be used for displaying local information. They’re now asking people to get in touch to suggest how they would make use of the space in number 15. Anyone with ideas or queries can email Mim Norvell viamims@talktalk.net. Offers of volunteer time or furnishings for the space are also very welcome.

The first community involvement sees a group of local tradesmen, including Simon Cooper of Scoop Electrical, Tim Collins of TCP Plastering and local painter Mikey King, donating time to refurbish the units so they are ready for use. Nick Ruck and Helen Harding from Falcon Signs volunteered to remove the old Chameleon Drinks hanging shop sign. Wantage charity champion Ray Collins and friends are also giving time to help the project along.

Mim, who’s working with colleagues from Sustainable Wantage on the project, says: “Securing permission from the landlords of these two units is a positive for the town in several ways. It contributes to the revival of Mill Street – adding to the momentum created by recent openings including Bake’n’Shake, Lil Hellers and the pop up shop, and work starting on the planned “buzz cafe” in the old Bartlett’s carpet store. It also acts on a recommendation from the Wantage public meeting to pilot a community shop for use by local people, and takes a step along the road to bringing two long empty units back into use, hopefully also helping other empty units in the street become more attractive to let.”

Jean Nunn-Price, a director of Sustainable Wantage, says: “This project fits squarely within our vision of a thriving local economy and a sustainable community going forward. By inviting community groups to use this space we are firmly connecting with local people and providing them with a public showcase for their wares. Sustainable Wantage is itself a Community Benefit Society that exists for the benefit of the community by encouraging, promoting and facilitating sustainability in Wantage, Grove and the surrounding area.”

The initiative is the latest being developed by Wantage’s town team as part of a town vitality project being driven through the town’s Joint Economic Forum.

For more information email Mim Norvell via mims@talktalk.net or Iain Nicholson viaiain@prbi.co.uk or on 07930 453 883.