Letchworth HGV test centre faces closure as cannot find a new home – even though sites are standing idle

Danny Comiskey, instructor, Michelle Carrod, owner and manager, John Carrod, owner

Danny Comiskey, instructor, Michelle Carrod, owner and manager, John Carrod, owner - Credit: Archant

A couple who own an HGV test centre in Letchworth spoke this week of their frustration after their request to rent out a disused local authority site for their business was refused.

John and Michelle Carrod – whose company DriveTrain is being turfed out its current site in Works Road because of redevelopments – say they run the risk of closing because they cannot find a site to rent.

John, 52, said: “There are a number of disused sites controlled by North Herts District Council that would suit our needs.

“We enquired about the old council works site on Icknield Way –which is owned by the Heritage Foundation and leased to the council – three years ago and we were told then that it was being developed and could not be used by anyone, even on a short term agreement.

“That land has sat empty apart from some brief occupancy by travellers. It has not generated any income in the years it has been shut.”

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The couple were told by the council that there are plans for that site in the pipeline. In the meantime it will probably remain empty for the next couple of years – but they can’t use it.

John said: “Being unable to use part of this industrial land for industrial use, I’m expecting to have to shut down my business with the loss of three jobs. I would have had the potential to employ more if we had we been able to carry on trading.”

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John and Michelle have also enquired about renting a site off Blackhorse Road from the Heritage Foundation but the land has since been rented as a car park. Wife Michelle, 49, said: “We live on the Grange Estate, where the council are planning to build more than 1,500 homes. But where is the support for industry to go with that. We would be happy to rent the site on Icknield Way for a short lease, just to get some breathing space and figure out where to go.”

John added: “Can I take this opportunity to thank the many hundreds, if not thousands, of HGV and PCV drivers that have trained with us throughout the years for their support and apologise to the many that I know wanted to train with us in the future.”

Councillor Terry Hone, responsible for finance at North Herts District Council, said: “The council leases the site at Icknield Way from Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation. The use of the site is restricted to ‘council use only’ and options for that are being considered. Any letting to a third party would first need Heritage Foundation approval.”

Letchworth Heritage Foundation have so far been unavailable for comment.

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