The UK’s community-owned shop network hit a milestone this week, as the 300th store opened its doors.

Based in Kent, Cobham Community Shop was launched after the village’s privately owned village store closed in 2010.

After forming a committee and raising £33,000 through grants, loans and donations, the project now boasts 107 shareholders and more than 60 local volunteers.

Welcoming the opening, environment secretary Owen Paterson said: “It is great to see the opening of the 300th community-owned shop in Cobham and I wish it every success. The village shop is often the very heart of the community and this achievement shows the sense of spirit which keeps our rural economies strong and striving for success.

“We know there are particular challenges to running a business in a remote area and we are doing all we can by investing £165m in growing the rural economy.”

The first community-owned shop opened its doors in 1867 in Yorkshire, but it wasn’t until the early 1980s that community ownership truly began to take off as a solution to the problems faced by rural communities.