Thameslink reassure St Albans food vans in station redevelopment

PUBLISHED: 15:00 12 May 2018

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

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

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Thameslink has sought to reassure independent food vans they will not be overlooked in St Albans station renovation plans.

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

When Network Rail submitted proposals to overhaul the Thameslink station, locals threw their support behind food vans not specifically catered for.

Both Charlie’s Coffee and Company and The Pudding Stop vans currently operate from the Ridgmont Road car park.

The proposals outline how the Station Way entrance will be extended over two floors and the back Ridgmont Road entrance would be replaced with a much larger structure containing two more ticket gates and three more machines, an ATM, a permanent café and shop, and toilets.

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

A Govia Thameslink Rail spokesperson said: “We greatly value the role our independent tenants play at St Albans City Station and will do what we can to enable Charlie’s Coffee and Company and The Pudding Stop in the Ridgmont Road car park to continue trading while the station redevelopment is under way. That said, we do not at this stage know the timings or phasing, so it is very difficult to say anything with any certainty. We will certainly aim to keep them updated as progress is made.”

He stressed independents offering “excellent service” will be favoured in the sit-down coffee shop tendering process. It has not been decided if they will be able to continue trading in the car park when the renovation is finished.

St Albans district council is currently considering the planning application.

Coffee van owner Charlie Powell said she is not reassured: “If Thameslink ‘greatly value’ the role my business plays here at Platform 4, then I would like to see them showing a strong commitment to protecting my pitch here and standing up for a small business that their customers truly love. They have the power to do this and what an amazing message it would send out locally if they did.

“Too often we see redevelopments driving out businesses at the heart of a community, soon Thameslink will do the same here.”

She said a sit-down coffee shop is out of sync with the “behaviour, needs and desires of St Albans commuters”.

Building work is expected to start this summer, for completion in 2019.

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