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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 September, 2004, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
Village farm shop facing closure
Hawley Farm Shop
The shop sells fresh produce and essential grocery items
People living in a Kent village fear they could lose their only shop - even though it opened just a few weeks ago.

The Farm Shop in Hawley, near Dartford, provides villagers with fresh produce and essential groceries.

There has been a shop on the site for over 20 years but Dartford Borough Council has refused it retrospective planning permission.

Manager David Anderson plans to lodge an appeal with the council, which says the shop was built on greenbelt land.

'Not needed'

A spokesman for the council said: "The shop was built on greenbelt land without planning permission.

"The council has followed greenbelt rules to refuse the retrospective application."

Mr Anderson does not understand the decision and claims he was told the shop was not only spoiling the area but was also not needed.

"They said it was not in keeping with the character because we are on a greenbelt area.

"It is a wooden structure so it's in keeping with the rural community," he said.

Elderly residents

He said the village used to have four shops, but all had closed.

"It was pretty unfair... There's always been a shop here and there's a need for this sort of thing in the area," he said.

Mark East, who rents the shop to Mr Anderson, said that since the village lost its last farm shop two years ago, demand for a new one has grown.

"The local people have been calling out and calling out for a replacement, especially a lot of elderly residents," he said.

Residents of the hamlet say the site is not in open fields but in a car park just metres from the M25.

They are standing behind Mr Anderson, who has collected more than 500 signatures on a petition he plans to submit to the council.

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