Public fuel sales set to return to Alconbury services
ALCONBURY services on the A14, close to the airfield site of the new enterprise zone, are set to re-open next month to the general public – after lying largely derelict for several years.
The site was bought in 2009 by the Helpston-based Heys Group, which will have spent more than �500,000 on refurbishment by the time the filling station is up and running in three or four weeks’ time, director George Hey told The Hunts Post.
Two acres of the 10-acre site have been occupied by Trucking World, operating as a refuelling station for commercial vehicles, an activity independent of Alconbury Services but already providing business for catering outlets that have opened on the rest of the site.
“We have spent a lot of money on resurfacing and new entrance barriers, as well as building a new toilet block. The objective is to convert it from trucks only to a service area for the general public.”
Mr Heys’s son and partner Robert worked closely with Huntingdonshire District Council’s environmental health department to ensure that, when husband-and-wife-run Field’s Caf� opened on the site in May, it did so with a kitchen hygiene rating of the maximum five stars. There is also a licensed bar.
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“We have also introduced a shop into the amenity building, which provides all the usual things you expect to find in a convenience shop, which we run ourselves,” Mr Heys senior added.
“Then came the very expensive job of reinstating the filling station, which has taken a tremendous amount of money to comply with coming legislation. We shall have six pumps, purely for retail use and with a separate entrance from the commercial vehicle site, along with a shop meeting everyday needs.
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“We’ve gone into business with Harvest Energy as our fuel supplier, because the big oil companies have stopped supplying smaller outlets.”
But fuel sales are clearly key to the site’s success. He has been in discussion with large franchise outlets such as Subway, which he says are keeping an eye on the site’s future potential.
“We have to create an impression, but first we have to create the footfall. Their interest comes when we are up and running. And we are hoping the enterprise zone will create some opportunities.”
When the filling station opens, the number of employees is expected to rise to 24, most of them recruited locally.
Mr Heys estimates that the site will sell three million litres of fuel in year one, rising to five million litres in year three. “By that time it will be viable, though I’m not expecting to reopen the hotel, but we might provide meeting room facilities.”
And the swingers’ club that occupies part of the former hotel?
“It does not form part of our marketing strategy!”