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The By-pass & M1 Motorway

The first mention of a scheme to bypass Redbourn was reported in the Parish Council Minutes in March 1935. This scheme would have seen both Redbourn and Markyate benefit from the alteration of the course of the A5.  The start date was set for 1939, the date of the outbreak of the Second World War! So no progress was made. After the war, the Markyate scheme went ahead and was completed in 1957.  When the M1 was opened in 1959, many hoped that the number of cars along the High Street would decrease but traffic levels continued to rise.

Hansard records of parliament report the exchanges on the subject.  April 1972 Volume 835

Mr Allason -asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will now include a Redbourn bypass on A5 in the preparation list.

The Secretary of State for the Environment, Mr Keith Speed - The proposed scheme will be considered for possible inclusion in the next extension of the trunk road preparation pool.

Mr Allason -Does my Hon. Friend recognise that in judging the needs for a new road there is a danger in giving greater consideration to congestion rather than to dangers on the road itself? Will he give high priority to this road, much of which runs through narrow high streets with consequent grave danger to residents?

Mr Speed - We hope to announce inclusion of some additional small schemes in the trunk road preparation pool within two or three months and the Redbourn bypass is being considered. I cannot say whether it will be included in this scheme. In the meantime the Department is studying further safety measures as a matter of urgency. 

 Hertfordshire County Council proposed to widen the High Street. This was unpopular as it threatened the character and history of the village. Pressure intensified as a result of a terrible accident on Good Friday in 1971 in which four people were killed.

In 1974 there was another fatal accident in the High Street. A lorry crashed into and killed the hairdresser in his shop.

The County Council By-pass Committee was established in May 1978. An exhibition and public meeting was held in the village hall in June 1979 People were able to see the alternative ideas and raise any questions.  Opinion was deeply divided as to the route of the by-pass and a public enquiry was held in February 1982.The plan which was finally chosen has the By-pass starting on the Hemel Hempstead Road just to the East of the M1 flyover. It runs North-Eastwards beside route of a disused railway. There is a roundabout junction with the A5 just south of the village and the bypass continues N.E. to a second roundabout at Harpenden Lane. The by-pass then curves northwest to link up with the A5 again just north of the village.   Since the by-pass has been opened there has been a tremendous decrease in the amount of traffic using the High Street and the two junctions of the B487.           

 Construction began in the summer of 1983. The official opening ceremony was held on the 24th October 1984. There were celebrations in the village on that day as the High Street was closed and a fun run took place.

Frank Cogan, Chairman of the County Council cuts the ribbon to open the by-pass assisted by Miss Redbourn

The By-pass today looking north towards the junction with the St. Albans Road

The M1

The by-pass forms a major access highway to the M1 motorway. It was constructed before the by-pass and opened in 1959.

Construction in progress in 1958

The original motorway service area - Area No. 1 of the original five was to be at Redbourn - but it was never built. Redbourn was to be the southernmost of them all and numbered first in all the paperwork. It was also the most popular site when potential operators were consulted. But local residents objected and the Ministry of Transport was unable to purchase the land. Plans went ahead at Watford Gap and Newport Pagnell, but Redbourn remained in the plan for future development. It was again suggested as services were becoming overcrowded but Toddington was developed instead as opposition in Redbourn continued. When the M1 was extended from Junction 5 to today's Junction 1, the issue of the lack of services at the southern end was brought up again, and again Redbourn was considered, but Scratchwood was chosen.  The development of a service area at Redbourn continued to be discussed as traffic levels continued to increase. When private firms were allowed to propose private developments it became a popular location.

 A service station was proposed in 1996 by Hallam Land Management. It was refused because the land is green belt, too close to M1 Junction 8, too close to the M1 itself (at the time widening the road from three lanes to four lanes was only being discussed, and wouldn't be possible as the services' plans stood), too close to a settlement and interrupted too many rights of way.

The decision was appealed in 1997. The developer's argument was that the nearest service station to the south-west was almost 70 miles away, while services to the north were operating at full capacity. However, the appeal was rejected as more items of local history which would be impacted by the site had been highlighted. There has been some development locally. Extra wanted to build a service area at Junction 9 of the M1. The plans were made in 1997, appealed in 1999 and were rejected because the junction would have needed a large-scale upgrade. There is a small service area there and a large lorry park.  

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