Coffee shop fears new supermarket impact in Chiswell Green

The Bhaker House tea and coffee shop

The Bhaker House tea and coffee shop - Credit: Archant

Sainsbury’s controversial proposal to rip up the beer garden of a historic pub in St Albans to make way for a new store has failed to halt an independent coffee shop from opening opposite the site.

Investor and Head Chef at the Bhaker House Raj Kaur uses the coffee machine

Investor and Head Chef at the Bhaker House Raj Kaur uses the coffee machine - Credit: Archant

St Albans barrister Jenny Kaur is the managing director of Bhaker House, which has recently started serving up refreshments from Watford Road in Chiswell Green.

But she is well aware of a scheme to build a single storey convenience store on the garden of Grade II listed Three Hammers Pub opposite her premises.

Sainsbury’s application, which includes access and parking, is still under consideration by St Albans district council.

It has stoked plenty of local opposition from residents and St Stephen parish council, with responses to a recent consultation citing concerns about its size and possible “dominating impact” on the neighbouring area.

One woman said that it was “more of an inconvenience store” because it would bring additional lorries along Watford Road.

Jenny said: “When I heard about the Sainsbury’s store my concern was more about what was going to happen to the area – is it going to become a concrete jungle?

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“Although the support I have had from the local community has been immense, it is frightening that a giant corporation could crush me.”

Her shop is serving traditional homemade biscuits, cakes and Indian foods, with coffee beans supplied from a roastery in Hemel Hempstead.

Jenny said: “My mum and dad bought the news agency and post office in Chiswell Green 27 years ago, and they have hearts of gold. They offered me the lease of the neighbouring former hairdresser’s salon – which has been refurbished for the shop.”

While she is concerned about the Sainsbury’s scheme, a man who lives near the pub has welcomed the proposed convenience store, saying there are plenty of potential benefits.

The man, who did not want to be named, said it would help improve the pub garden, create extra jobs and give more choice to local shoppers, who would not have to drive as far as Sainsbury’s in Everard Close or Waitrose in Ermine Close.