Heartfelt plea to stop rail-freight scheme

PUBLISHED: 12:20 22 November 2007 | UPDATED: 12:45 06 May 2010

Barbara and Alan Poulter fear they will spend the rest of their lives on abuilding site if the scheme goes ahead

Barbara and Alan Poulter fear they will spend the rest of their lives on abuilding site if the scheme goes ahead

THE HUMAN cost of living alongside a massive rail-freight terminal was brought home to the public inquiry by an elderly couple this week Barbara and Alan Poulter, aged 77 and 80, who have lived in Radlett Road, Frogmore, for more than 20 years, made a mov

THE HUMAN cost of living alongside a massive rail-freight terminal was brought home to the public inquiry by an elderly couple this week

Barbara and Alan Poulter, aged 77 and 80, who have lived in Radlett Road, Frogmore, for more than 20 years, made a moving plea to the planning inspector to reject Helioslough's proposals for the development on the former Radlett Aerodrome site.

They fear they will spend the rest of their lives living on a building site if Helioslough gets the go-ahead for the terminal which would be built on their doorstep.

Their son Paul read their letter to the public inquiry into St Albans District Council's decision to reject the application. It criticised Helioslough for their "highhanded and almost callous attitude".

Blighted

The couple said recent years had been blighted with worries about the future of their well-loved home to which they moved from Harrow to spend the rest of their lives surrounded by countryside.

They said Helioslough approached them in 2005 asking for a potential sale of their home because it was directly next to the access from Radlett Road to the proposed bypass which would be part of the development.

Mrs Poulter explained they were asked to consider a five-year option agreement worth £5,000, which would have meant the developers could buy their home at any point during that time. But it would have only left the couple, who are both registered disabled, with six months to leave.

The couple rejected the proposition, largely because their home has been adapted so they can cope with their disabilities. Mrs Poulter has severe mobility problems and Mr Poulter, who served in the British Army, has a pacemaker because of heart problems.

After praising the help of social services, Mrs Poulter said: "Equally precious and important to our quality of life and health in our last years is the peace and quiet we are able to enjoy in our small but lovingly-tended garden and house that we maintain and improve from our pensions and savings."

Some time after their correspondence with a Helioslough representative, Mrs Poulter said they visited an exhibition about the plans where they discovered that the proposed access to the bypass fell metres from their front door and a roundabout was planned behind their back garden to service traffic travelling between the A414 and the rail freight terminal.

Shocked and upset by the prospect, they asked Helioslough if they would still be interested in buying their home but Mrs Poulter claimed that the company's representative said they didn't want it and that the couple's situation "wasn't too bad".

Since turning down Helioslough's offer, Mrs Poulter said:" We feel we have been treated with indifference bordering on arrogance and have experienced ever-increasing anxiety due to the unspecified nature of the precise impact of the development on our home and lives."

They are also very worried about the impact the ground disturbance, pollution and noise will have on their health.

Mrs Poulter said they would be unable to continue living in their cherished home if the development was built but they feared nobody would buy their house, at least not at its current value.

She added: "We are not against change. We have witnessed change many times, but we are against the environment, the Green Belt and local peoples' lives being ruined by this ill-conceived and brutal development of which Helioslough would be the only real beneficiary.

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