Plans have been submitted to transform Darley’s sports pavilion into a community hub which will house a shop, cafe and Post Office.
The village has been without a shop and Post Office for almost a year and residents have said they want to see it return.
Following a consultation with villagers and a public meeting last September, the Darley Playing Fields pavilion has been put forward as the preferred site for the new hub, which would still be used as a sports facility.
Nigel Nicholas, from the Darley playing fields association, which submitted the application to Harrogate Borough Council, said: “This switch to dual use would allow it to be maintained as a playing field pavilion at the heart of a rural community. Not only will this project create the much needed village shop and Post Office - with the valuable addition of a cafe - but it will also ensure the future maintenance and development of the playing field pavilion for recreational and sports use.”
The application seeks permission to change the use of the meeting room, as well as improve the parking facilities at the pavilion. Plans have also been put forward to replace the roof, which is in critical condition, after Darley and Menwith Parish Council agreed to fund the repairs.
Mr Nicholas said: “The support of the parish council to renew the roof of the pavilion is separate from the project to bring a shop and Post Office back to the community of Darley. Regardless of the potential use of part of the pavilion for a village shop, the roof needs to be replaced.”
The planning application has received the backing of residents, as well as the sports teams that use the pavilion.
Nidd United Juniors, who use Darley playing fields each Sunday, said: “We are very supportive of the plans to develop the additional facilities at the pavilion. The plan for the shop to offer a refreshment facility will be particularly well received by players, coaches and parents attending our matches.”
The creation of the new facility will be funded through the community, together with grants. It will be run by a business person who will lease the site from the playing fields association. It is envisaged that it will provide a rural enterprise start-up/apprenticeship opportunity to at least two local people. If the plans are given the go-ahead, it is hoped that work will start in spring and the enterprise will open for business this summer.
Darley and Menwith Parish Council clerk Sue Welch said: “The village wants a shop and at the moment the pavilion is about the only option, so in that respect the plans are positive, but there are also problems to be overcome.”
The parish council will discuss the plans later this month.