Plans are afoot to convert the refurbished Watch Office at Alconbury Weald into a bright and dynamic café, bistro and bar – with an outside barbecue and seating area overlooking the cricket green. The new offering will be operated by local coffee connoisseurs and tapas aficionados Bohemia, who run a popular eaterie in St Neots.
Urban&Civic, master developer for Alconbury Weald, is seeking permission for a change of use that will allow the Nissen Hut formerly used for briefing aircrew before wartime missions, to be transformed into a unique place to catch up with friends; enjoy a bite to eat, and soak up both the past and the future at the heart of the development. The new layout includes a dining area for over 50 people and a corner bar.
The Listed building was extensively refurbished last year, to make it wind and watertight and to save the historic fabric. Now with the partnership with Bohemia in place, the new application covers amendments which will ensure people can relax and enjoy their dining experience, and will ensure the building can meet modern hygiene and food preparation standards. Updates include changes to lighting and flooring, but mainly focus on additional lightweight partitions and surfaces going in to new kitchen areas, which have all been sensitively designed to ensure they do not damage the historic integrity of the building and can be removed if the use changes.
Bohemia also plans to make use of the first floor of the tower for events and private dining as well as for community events – which Bohemia are committed to hosting as they become a part of the Alconbury Weald community.
James and Ash from Bohemia said: “The Watch Office presents an exciting new opportunity for us to expand our offering in the area. We pride ourselves on customer experience and establishing a new café, bistro and bar in this amazing building at Alconbury Weald will help us take that to the next level. We’ll be serving the finest fresh ground coffee, roasted in our very own micro roastery, alongside seasonal food sustainably sourced from local producers and cooking up a storm.
“We are all about flavour and community, and the character of this historic building – the role it played and the space left behind – is an amazing backdrop to what we know we can create here. It is the perfect time for us to become a key part of the growing new community at Alconbury Weald, supporting the businesses and homes, and visitors from across the local area.”
As part of the new move, the library and community space, which were prevented from opening by lockdown, will move into the downstairs of the adjacent Club, alongside the Gym and Urban&Civic’s offices.
Rebecca Britton, Communities and Partnerships for Alconbury Weald, said: “We’ve been looking at ways to expand our food and drink options for residents, business and visitors for a while and it’s great to see these plans take another step forward. The Watch Office has been meticulously restored and refurbished and this new lease of life will ensure more residents and visitors can experience this important heritage asset and its role in the history of Alconbury Weald.
“We’re delighted that Bohemia – with their passion, ideas, and energy and ambitious plans to grow locally – will be our partners to bring this vision to life and create a real buzz at the heart of Alconbury Weald.”
The new café and bistro is due to open in the Watch Office in late summer. In the meantime, Bohemia will be visiting Alconbury Weald with its pop-up coffee bar so residents and the local business community can sample some of the menu that will be available. Details of times, dates and location will be advertised through Alconbury Weald and Bohemia social media channels.