Fuel duel in pipeline
Protestors claim a supermarket giant’s plan to open a new petrol station in Houghton Regis would sound the death knell for a small, independent business.
Now one prominent local businessman has written to Prime Minister David Cameron and South West Beds MP Andrew Selous in a bid to put the brakes on the idea.
Morrisons is building a new £12million store in the town and has asked Central Beds Council for the planning go-ahead to knock down its existing supermarket.
It wants to build a petrol station on the site – directly opposite the family-run Georgina Service Station. A protest petition has been launched to oppose the plan.
Bhikhu Gondhia, one of three brothers who own the Georgina business, said the family have invested more than £2 million in the station in the past eight years alone.
He said there are two filling stations in the town, while a third has closed down.
And he warned: “There is not enough capacity for three of us to survive.”
Supporter Kishor Patel, of Houghton Trading Ltd, which runs a Nisa Local chain, has protested to the PM and to Mr Selous as well as to planning decision-makers about the proposal.
Morrisons’ new 51,122sq ft store will create 290 jobs.
The latest application seeks permission to demolish Morrisons’ existing small Houghton store and build a petrol station, with sales kiosk, car wash facility and parking.
A Morrisons spokesperson said: “During the planning process, the local authority will carefully assess both the need for and the impact of the proposed filling station.
“Wherever we trade there is bound to be competition with other businesses but we think this is a good thing for the consumer.
“The station will be an integral part of the new store’s full offering and will give customers a wider choice of where they fill up their tanks.”
> Check out the application, CB/12/02909/FULL, and comment online at www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk. Public consultation ends on September 16.
For the full story, see the August 29 edition of the Dunstable Gazette.
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