Concrete plant proposal on Hitchin-Codicote B656 ‘defies logic’

The B656 between Hitchin and Codicote, at the Whitwell turn. Picture: John Francis

The B656 between Hitchin and Codicote, at the Whitwell turn. Picture: John Francis - Credit: Archant

A plan to build a new concrete batching plant has run into fierce opposition from neighbours who say it will overwhelm the B656 between Hitchin and Codicote.

Breedon Southern Ltd has applied for planning permission to build on an existing salvage yard at Rush Green, to replace its old ready-mixed concrete plant at Langley Sidings in Stevenage – which closed in 2016.

Objectors say the proposed plant off the B656 would cause an unacceptable increase in HGV traffic at Hitchin’s Three Moorhens roundabout – where the road meets the A602 – and along Codicote’s High Street.

The site would operate from 7am to 7pm on weekdays, and from 7am to 1pm on Saturdays. According to the transport assessment attached to Breedon’s planning application, there would be an average of four or five HGV movements along the road per hour – “up to 54 per full working day”.

The assessment, prepared by consultant Jeremy Hurlstone, then notes that the site is within cycling distance of Stevenage railway station, Hitchin and Codicote – and that “the B656 London Road appeared to be a popular cycling route, based on its observed usage by cyclists”.

Those who have filed objections with North Hertfordshire District Council include Stephen Congrave, of St Ippolyts, who has said the B656 narrows in many places and is both a commuting road for cyclists and a route used for riding horses.

“I do not believe that this proposal is in the interest of the community of Hitchin or the affected villages,” he said.

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He added that approval would cause “serious and potentially life-threatening events due to the use of a B-class road that is completely unsuitable for the proposed HGV traffic”.

Colin Argent, from Codicote, has also objected. He wrote: “Locating a concrete processing plant with over 60 extra vehicle movements per day, on a road with access issues at both ends, defies logic.”

In his transport assessment, Mr Hurlstone asserts the extra traffic would “not be significant, even if all of the traffic travelled either to or from the north, or to or from the south.”

He also said the highest hourly flow recorded at various count sites along the B656 was 1,193 vehicles, including 24 HGVs, and that adding another five HGVs would mean increasing traffic by just 0.4 per cent – with 29 HGVs out of 1,198 vehicles representing just 2.4 per cent of overall traffic.