The demand for concrete

Concrete is the world’s most versatile and popular construction material. It is essential for the places we live and work, places of learning and care, and places of business and leisure. Concrete also underpins all of our travel and transport, and production of energy, supply of water and removal of sewage. London’s development demands 10 million tonnes of aggregates to be imported each year – much of this is used in concrete. 

Virtually all the raw materials needed to make concrete (like aggregates and cement) must be brought from outside London (either dredged from the sea or quarried in the South West and Midlands).  Concrete is a live product which sets hard within a few hours of being manufactured and has to be produced close to where it is needed for construction.  It is not possible to import the concrete needed for construction from plants outside London.

Effective transport is key

It is widely acknowledged that the most efficient and sustainable way to bring construction materials into London is by rail. Each train keeps between 75 and 85 lorries off the road, so delivering materials by rail means a much lower carbon footprint with vehicle movements massively reduced.  Without rail sites such as Cricklewood to enable these materials to be imported by rail they would have to be imported by road, significantly increasing lorries on local roads and increasing congestion and transport emissions. This is the reason that national and local policies require that sites such as Cricklewood are safeguarded and used for rail freight wherever possible.

Locating a concrete plant at a rail depot is the best way to keep lorry movements to an absolute minimum. That’s because it eliminates the need for the transfer of aggregates between a quarry or aggregates depot (as Cricklewood RFF is today) and local concrete plants.  Our proposal means that aggregates can be turned into concrete at the site, rather than being taken on local roads to a concrete plant nearby.  Our proposal reduces the overall number of lorry journeys needed to meet construction demand.

Aggregates deliveries come the area by tipper lorry. Concrete is then delivered locally by mixer truck.

Aggregates deliveries come to the area by train. Concrete is then delivered locally by mixer truck. SCENARIO 2 has less than half the vehicles movements on local roads compared to SCENARIO 1.

Supporting London’s regeneration

The London Plan sets out ambitious targets for the regeneration and continued development of the capital. In every case, from Housing (Chapter 4) to Social Infrastructure (Chapter 5) and Sustainable Infrastructure (Chapter 9), large volumes of construction materials including concrete will be required. The London Plan also states the clear policy to keep essential construction freight off the road and make best use of the rail network to reduce lorry miles, improve air quality and cut congestion on London’s roads (Chapter 10).

Important rail facilities like Cricklewood RFF are therefore critical to delivering the London Plan in the most sustainable way possible. Our proposed development supports the London Mayor’s strategies for transport, environmental and air quality. As regeneration takes place in the area, this site can best fulfil its safeguarded function as a materials freight and handling site with the addition of a concrete plant. Find out more about the importance and benefits of moving materials by rail.

The London Plan

What happens at a concrete plant?

A concrete plant is like a giant food mixer. Raw ingredients go in at one end, get mixed together and come out of the other end as wet concrete. There are no chemical processes involved and no emissions from the plant itself.  The aggregates we use are sand and gravel similar to what you would find on a beach, and crushed rock such a limestone and granite.

The ‘ingredients’ are aggregates, cement and water, plus additives which help to control the characteristics of the mix and its setting time. Ingredients delivered by train keep thousands of lorry movements off the road. Once mixed, the concrete is poured into a mixer truck which delivers it to a construction site to be poured. 

There are more than 500 different types of concrete, from fast-setting and high-strength to self-levelling and water-permeable mixes. Concrete is a highly technical product, with different uses requiring different concrete mixes which can be used in specific different applications and which perform differently.

A concrete plant typically employs a manager or supervisor, staff responsible for controlling the concrete ‘batching’, machine operators for loading, technical staff who test the products and occasionally maintenance staff. Truck drivers would also be based there. Our proposal will employ around 36 people based at the site in these roles.

Capital Concrete's concrete plant in Wembley, London

About Capital Concrete

Capital Concrete is one of London’s leading ready-mixed concrete producers. The company supplies concrete to building projects of all sizes, from major infrastructure schemes right through to a solid base for your garden shed. Capital Concrete operates to the highest health, safety and environmental standards. The business is a joint venture operated by Brett and Breedon. Both companies are leaders in their field with strong track records in the responsible operation of plants that produce construction materials.

Capital Concrete is also among the companies in the sector that are leading the way to reduce the overall environmental impact of concrete with low-carbon concrete products. By using the latest in concrete technology, we are able to offer our customers both reduced carbon concrete and also cement-free concrete.  Global cement producers have recently pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050, and Capital Concrete will be able to offer the latest advances in emission reduction and pass these benefits on to our clients.