Herts Ad Comment: We need to support St Albans Station’s independent retailers

Charlie's Coffee and Company van is popular with commuters.

Charlie's Coffee and Company van is popular with commuters. - Credit: Archant

“Welcome to the vibrant city of St Albans - oh, yes, there used to be some much-loved independent retailers at the station but we decided to replace them with soulless chain outlets instead...”

There’s a degree of irony in the fact that the same issue we’re celebrating St Albans being named one of England’s most vibrant cities, for reasons including its hard-working local businesses, steps are being taken which could see two of them being driven out of the main railway station.

Few people would dispute the assumption that Charlie’s Coffee and Company and The Pudding Stop are among St Albans’ retailing gems, and their vans at the City Station attract hoards of customers, both regulars and visitors.

So why were plans to radically transform the station put together without thought for these award-winning traders, who have been operating from sites in the rear car park for years?

Instead we are promised more clone town chains filling out the new retail space, and little regard for the local indies or their loyal customer base.

There also appears to have been a complete lack of consultation with Charlie’s and The Pudding Stop relating to the project, but we all know how good Govia Thameslink are when it comes to communication...

To make matters worse, the station transformation scheme will see the loss of a staggering 78 cycle rack spaces, which sets a poor message when it comes to environmental awareness and efforts to reduce congestion.

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The impression given by this scheme is that £5 million was made available by the Station Commercial Project Facility, and the money had to be spent on something, so why not completely revamp the layout of the station?

We urge Govia Thameslink to listen to the comments of their passengers - many of whom are also customers of Charlie’s and The Pudding Stop - and amend their plans accordingly to protect these independent retailers.