The developer behind Kent’s newest service station made sure he turned heads when a top of the range luxury car called in at the official opening in Ashford.
The Willesborough Service Station is the latest site in the UK to offer charging facilities for electric vehicles, so the sleek £106,000 hybrid BMWi8 executive saloon was on hand to welcome guests attending the opening.
Businessman Mr Kanagaratnam Rajamenon took over the old petrol station and garage in Hythe Road in August, and has invested in new petrol tanks, an extended canopy and extra pumps. A 2,100 sq ft Budgens supermarket has also been added. Further investment is expected in the coming months, which will bring the total cost of buying and transforming the site to £2.7million.
The development breathes new life into a derelict site which has stood empty for some time. The investment has created 20 jobs – all given to local people living within walking distance – and the supermarket has been welcomed as a real boost to the community.
Both the service station and the Budgens store are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and feature 12 fuel pumps, three electric charging points, free ATM, hot food-to-go, Costa Coffee and a wide range of fresh foods. The supermarket also has a 24-hour alcohol licence. With ample car parking spaces, including provision for disabled drivers, customers will be able to carry out their day-to-day shopping with ease.
The opening was attended by a number of dignitaries including The High Sheriff of Kent George Jessel Esq DL, the Mayor of Ashford, Cllr Winston Michael, together with representatives of local businesses. Addressing guests, both Mr Jessel and Cllr Michael praised Mr Rajamenon for his decision to invest in the new service station, with Cllr Michael heralding the project as another sign of increasing business confidence in Ashford, which is the fastest growing town between Central London and Continental Europe.
After watching a ribbon cutting ceremony to open the station, they admired the BMWi8, provided by local dealer Broad Oak Motors. The car, with its sweeping lines and bat-wing doors, proved a real scene-stealer on the forecourt.
In addition to Willesborough Service Station, Mr Rajamenon also owns a service station in Seabrook Road, Hythe, plus the Ramada Dover Hotel, the Best Western Clifton Hotel Folkestone, and the Holiday Inn Express Canterbury. He also runs the Abode Care Homes Group, which provides residential, nursing and elderly mentally infirm care at five homes across Kent and Essex.
Mr Rajamenon said: “We have become partners with BP and Budgens, and together we have provided a major new facility for local people and I hope they enjoy using the store, which is open 24 hours a day. Being the last branded service station before joining the London-bound M20, I am also confident this facility will be very popular with the hundreds of thousands of people who use the motorway every year.
“And the news that a new motorway junction is to be built next year, less than a mile from our site, means that Ashford will be an even busier destination for motorists.
“This is not the end of our investment here. In phase two we hope to add a restaurant in what used to be the garage and we also have the option of developing 450sqm of space on the first floor of the service station – perhaps a gym if our research shows that there is a local demand for such a thing.
“Our decision to invest in Ashford shows our confidence in the area, which is currently undergoing a huge transformation with a series of major new developments transforming the skyline of the town. This is a good place for our business to grow and prosper,” added Mr Rajamenon.