Grant boosts vibrant High Street
A new coffee shop has proved itself to be a social hub in the market town of Kington, Herefordshire following a major refurbishment that saw it transformed from a former hardware store into a modern, popular meeting place.
The transformation was supported by a Redundant Buildings Grant from the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
The grant, worth over £12,000, was awarded to business partners Beccy Haydon and Kathy Thompson whose company Offa’s Grounds bought the freehold property, now consisting of the café and gallery, in 2012.
Previously a hardware store for over 50 years, the business had slowly found trading more difficult in the changing retail world. Yet the property itself offered large windows in which Beccy and Kathy could envisage people sitting to watch the world go by and hopefully linger for longer in Kington; and so the idea for Border Bean Coffee Shop and Gallery was born.
The work involved to transform the building in to the modern space it now is was extensive, but did uncover some hidden gems as Beccy explains: “The first six months after purchasing the building was focused on stripping back and clearing out, followed by the preparation and approval of detailed plans. With little internal improvement having taken place over the previous 50 years, it was a pleasant surprise to discover a charming old Leominster-built range from the late 1800s hidden behind the tacked-on ply board. We additionally needed to replace all flooring which had become rotten; install a modern electrical supply with associated re-wiring; repair windows and re-plaster and decorate throughout. Of course, as a coffee shop we needed to ensure a modern kitchen was also installed, along with smart toilet facilities for our customers.
“The project we were faced with was significant and the additional investment that we received from the grant allowed us the freedom to ensure we completed the project to a high standard. We believe the building now has the potential, with proper care and attention, to be a useful space for at least another 50 years without requiring such extensive refurbishment in that time.”
Graham Wynn, Chairman of the Marches LEP, adds: “A business which has suffered decline over a number of years can become a sad sight on any high street, so to see Border Bean Coffee Shop and Gallery transform such a building in to a vibrant meeting place for the community serves well to demonstrate the value of the Redundant Building Grant Scheme.
“It has brought a new vibrancy to the High Street in Kington, whilst also creating eight part-time jobs and providing four local teenagers with Saturday jobs.”