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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 16 October, 2002, 16:33 GMT 17:33 UK
Village life goes underground
Exbourne Post Office Plans
The shops may be built under a field
Shops may be built underground in a Devon village with a shortage of space.

Villagers in Exbourne have been given permission to build underneath a grassy bank.

A subterranean post office, cafe and general store are planned.

The scheme became possible after a local farmer donated the land.


This will be a social centre that is very much needed

Councillor Denise Herrod-Taylor

The closure of the sub post office in December 2001 prompted villagers into taking action.

The village hall has been used to house a satellite post office, shop, cafe, travelling fishmonger and travelling baker.

But every day everything has to be cleared away and there is no storage space.

The former post office has been sold off to become a house.

There is no room for new buildings, so villagers decided to consider underground development.

Meeting place

West Devon Borough Councillor Denise Herrod-Taylor said: "There is very little flat land in the village centre.

"We needed to get a site that was suitable and accessible.

"A local architect said that using the bank was a very feasible idea."

They have now won outline planning approval.

Crediton's underground pharmacy
A Crediton pharmacy is partially underground
Resident Margaret Weeks said: "It is important, I think, especially for the older people, because a lot of them haven't got cars.

"They can't get anywhere and this is a meeting place for them."

Those involved with the project say a permanent post office is needed.

Sally Hordern of the Exbourne and Jacobstowe Initiative: "It had closed, unfortunately, just before Christmas.

"So, for three months nobody could get their pensions - they had to go to either Hatherleigh or Okehampton.

Underground pharmacy

"With the post office going, the heart went out of the village. Now I hope we'll get it back again."

Councillor Herrod-Taylor said: "This will be a social centre that is very much needed."

Villagers have already raised 2,500 towards the scheme, which will cost an estimated 150,000.

  • It will not be the first building in Devon which has gone to the earth - a pharmacy in Crediton is also partly underground.

  • Click here to go to Devon
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    15 Oct 02 | Politics
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