Fate of St Albans City Station food vans secured thanks to local community

Charlie'’s Coffee and Company van. Picture: Charlie'’s Coffee and Company

Charlie'’s Coffee and Company van. Picture: Charlie'’s Coffee and Company - Credit: Archant

The fate of popular food vans outside St Albans City Station have been secured, thanks to the local community.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has confirmed Charlie’s Coffee and Company and The Pudding Stop vans will be able to keep serving commuters from the Ridgmont Road car park after the city’s station is revamped.

Network Rail (NR) plan to overhaul both the Station Way and Ridgmont Road entrances in order to improve the experience for about 7.5 million passengers who travel through the station each year.

A planning application, currently withdrawn on a technicality, included plans to extend the Station Way entrance over two floors and replace the Ridgmont Road entrance with a much larger structure containing a permanent café.

However, residents were outraged that two long-standing independent food vans were not catered for and there were about 150 objections lodged on the St Albans district council website.

In response to the pressure, the application will now not include the retail space and instead will retain the vans’ power socket.

Charlie Powell, of Charlie’s coffee van, thanked everyone for their support: “I have been completely overwhelmed by the efforts you’ve all made to protect my business. The coffee van love you’ve all shown has warmed my soul.

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“This result shows that when people stand up and say something, they can make such a difference.”

The project has been granted £5m by the Station Commercial Project Facility.

A spokesperson from GTR said they listened to passengers and stakeholders: “We no longer plan to include a retail unit within the new Ridgmont Road station entrance and will instead turn this space into a secure cycle hub which will be great news for the hundreds of cyclists who use the station every day.

“We also plan to retain a power socket in front of the Ridgmont Road station entrance to be used by mobile retailers. We will do our utmost to enable both to continue trading while the planned station redevelopment works are under way, recognising that our independent retailers provide a great passenger benefit.”

NR and GTR are in discussion with St Albans district council about resubmitting the updated application.