A Kent forecourt owner has just completed a £1.3m investment in his business, despite plans by BP to build a service station and drive-thru McDonald’s 50m from his site.
Simon Privett, who runs Tollgate Service Station, just off the A2 at Gravesend, had been a BP dealer since 1999, but discovered in 2013 that BP had applied for planning permission for the rival scheme. Documentation with the planning application assumed Tollgate Service Station would close, although there had been no consultation with Privett.
He successfully went to court when his local council awarded planning permission for the scheme, and got the decision overturned. BP came back with a revised application, which also won planning permission and was again overturned when Privett challenged it in court.
In 2015 Privett also took on BP over his supply deal, which was due to run until this year, and managed to get it terminated. He moved to Shell and spent £130,000 on the re-brand. This included installing new pumps, lines and re-lining tanks to extend his offer from two standard fuels and one premium, to Shell’s full offer of two standard and two premium ones.
However, with BP preparing a third planning application for its scheme, in November 2016 Privett decided to carry out a major redevelopment of his site. He said: “This site is my pension. I’ve put my whole life into it and I decided I wasn’t going anywhere.”
The scheme has involved rebuilding and extending his Spar and Subway stores part by part, so they have been able to keep trading throughout the work, and adding a new franchise, Favourite Chicken, and an additional Costa Coffee, so the site now has three. The extended Spar store has been completely refitted inside including a large range of chilled and frozen products.
Privett says his intention was to stay open throughout the building work, but he was finally forced to close while the site’s canopy was replaced, although he pushed the contractor to reduce the timespan from an original specification of three weeks down to less than two.
Privett said the reaction from regular customers to the redevelopment has been universally positive and he is really pleased at how well the Favourite Chicken offer has been received.