Uplyme garage owner confirms closure in New Year, but says he will reconsider if school plans are changed

uplyme garage

THE owner of Uplyme Filing Station, village shop and post office has confirmed the facility will close in the New Year, but says he will reconsider if action is taken to amend the proposed access for a new school opposite his business.

It was announced at a meeting of Uplyme Parish Council in October that the post office based at Uplyme Filling Station would cease to operate when the postmaster’s current lease comes to an end on January 14 2022, and it was implied that owner Dave Ostler may close the entire garage and shop facility.

Mr Ostler said that proposed changes to Uplyme Road, to provide access for a new primary school on land behind the village hall, had been an ongoing concern for several years and could pose a health and safety hazard for his business with increased traffic queueing outside, making it unviable in the long-term.

Residents staged a public meeting earlier this month to discuss how they could save the village facility from closure and called for clarity on the situation from Mr Ostler.

It was agreed to write a community letter to him, asking him to clarify whether the entire facility would close and whether he would reconsider.

In a letter to Will Thomson, who is leading the ‘Save Our Shop’ campaign, Mr Ostler has now confirmed that it is his final decision to closure the entire facility in January.

But he said he may reconsider if The Bestic Trust, which submitted plans for the new school, can provide evidence that it is taking action to change the proposed access.

Initial plans for the new school included a separate entrance and exit, but Devon Highways advised this was unlikely to be approved and should be changed to a single access point before the application was submitted to East Devon District Council.

Their objection to the separate entrance and exit was based on the exit on to Masters Close being too steep and too close to a mini roundabout.

A revised application was eventually submitted by The Bestic Trust with a single entrance and exit point closer to the garage, which was approved by East Devon in October 2020 despite strong objection from Uplyme Parish Council and Mr Ostler.

In his letter to Mr Thomson, Mr Ostler wrote: “If I can see some written evidence that The Bestic Trust are doing something about the issue, other than discussion and meetings without any plan of action, plus they keep all relevant parties informed (historically, I know that communication between the trust and other parties has not happened, then I would contemplate extending the closure time.

“If there is a positive outcome regarding a change of planning, i.e. addressing the issue of egress and degress, the shop will, I’d hope, stay open for many years to come.

“I agree with you that the facility is an important part of the community, but the community has to work together which hasn’t been the case in this situation. This has put me in a corner with no alternative but to close.

“Also remember that you have all had a year’s grace as the lease was extended as a temporary measure this time last year.

“Having spoken to the current postmaster, we are of the same thoughts that we both need to see evidence that The Bestic Trust shows serious intent to address the issue. As the freeholder, I have spent a considerable amount of money fiercely defending this situation.

“Just to reiterate, I will contemplate extending the lease for a small period of time, but I need to see real evidence of appropriate activity, together with complete and open communication by The Bestic Trust.

“It should be remembered that they are the only organisation that can actually change the position we are in.”

Commenting on the ‘SOS Save Our Shop’ Facebook page, Mr Thomson said: “I held a meeting with Mr Ostler and can personally assure you all that he is 100 per cent behind us with this, and wants nothing more than to be able to keep the shop open.

“I have also spoken to the chairman of The Bestic Trust who has informed me that they are having a meeting with the Alcock Group tomorrow (Tuesday) with the view to nail down a solution to the access exit strategy for the school.”

In the meantime, residents are being asked to sign a petition calling for the proposed access to the school to be changed to save the garage, post office and shop from closure.

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