PLANS for villagers to buy a local pub and corner shop are off to an "encouraging" start, it is claimed.

People are being offered the chance to buy shares at £25 each to ensure Stoke St Gregory keeps a pub and a local shop.

A community benefit society hopes to raise between £200,000 and £500,000 by the end of next month to buy the Royal Oak and the contents and goodwill of the Village Stores.

Both facilities have bene on the market for some time without finding a buyer and the aim of the Heart Of The Village initiative is to save both before they close for good.

The HOTV plan involves buying the three-storey pub for £345,000 and using the building for a pub and shop downstairs run by paid managers with volunteer staff.

An HOTV spokesman said: "After a significant effort, the business plan and share prospectus for the project to buy the Royal Oak and relocate the Village Stores have been finalised and approved by an independent auditor.

"All documents can be viewed at This was a major milestone in our progress.

"Shares in the HOTV community benefit society went on sale on August 1. Initial uptake has been encouraging.

"If you care about the long-term future of Stoke St Gregory as a supportive and welcoming community, please join us."

A drop-in event has been planned in the village hall on Monday, September 2, from 5pm to 9pm.

Stoke St Gregory has a second pub, the Rose and Crown, which has planning permission to be converted into housing. However, the owner, Stephen Browning, has pledged to remain open until a buyer has been found.