AN AMBITIOUS businessman has unveiled plans to invest £1million in Pilning and create at least 30 new jobs.
Akthar Shimam, the owner of the local Londis shop, has set out to boost the economy by opening an upmarket Indian restaurant in the old Cross Hands Inn as well as a new and much more modern shop and post office.
Mr Shamim bought the pub in July and it is currently being transformed into a high-end restaurant seating approximately 300, to be renamed Shimam’s. Work is expected to be completed in March.
Following the grand opening, the businessman is planning to build an extension at the back of the Cross Hands for a state-of-the art 3,000 square metre store and post office.
The shop, due to open in October, will be three times bigger than the current Londis on Redwick Road.
Mr Shimam, 53, told the Gazette: "Our current shop is very small. For the amount of customers we get it was not enough. We had planning permission to make it bigger but because it was an old building there were too many pillars in it and we couldn’t refit it properly.
"This will be a purpose-built shop with all the modern facilities and it will be three times bigger."
Around £200,000 will be spent on refurbishing the old Cross Hands to bring it up to modern standards. Building a new shop from scratch will however be more costly and should come to a minimum of £650,000.
The store - which will become a Budgens, an upmarket strand of the Londis chain - and restaurant are expected to create at least 30 jobs in the area, split evenly between both businesses.
Mr Shimam currently employs six staff.
"We will be creating a lot of jobs," he said. "There will be around 15 and 20 in the restaurant and another 15 to 20 in the shop. The village will have a lovely shop and an upper class Indian restaurant and hopefully lovely too."
Villager Roy Edwardes welcomed Mr Shimam's investment which would help, he said, put Pilning "on the map".
"Staffing this will offer another 20 or so jobs, locally recruited. The project will put Pilning on the map as a place to come and enjoy."