St Albans rail freight plans inch closer to fruition
PUBLISHED: 18:30 17 May 2018
A controversial rail freight depot in Park Street is one step closer to becoming a reality.
Detailed plans concerning the layout, design, access, and infrastructure of the notorious Strategic Rail Freight Interchange have been approved by St Albans district council (SADC).
The proposals - which attract cross-party resentment - were approved on appeal by former Communities Secretary Eric Pickles in 2014, after a hard fought battle from SADC.
The planning referrals committee could only refuse this detailed application if it materially deviated from the last proposals, and officers deemed this was not the case.
There will be seven separate buildings each with its own car park, and access to them all via a roundabout to the north of the former Radlett Aerodome.
The buildings will be gradients of grey and clad in Tata Steel.
A spokesperson from HelioSlough, who submitted the proposal, spoke at the meeting on May 14: “We have sought to develop a design that provides a high quality through all aspects of the scheme - be it the country park, the bypass, or the interchange itself.”
Park Street district councillor Jock Wright said he would like reassurances the SRFI terminal will be a considerate neighbour to residents, working productively with SADC
He said: “Obviously I want to speak of the implications of once the planning process is given and should the infrastructure go ahead, it’s about what happens in that building phase with enforcement and making sure that the impact on Park Street is minimised.”
Cllr Rob Prowse added: “Although the northern roundabout has been given the all clear in terms of congestion and everything else it still does give me concerns.”
St Albans MP Anne Main has been campaigning for details on the viability of an SRFI terminal - questioning Network Rail for timetables and without clarification, fearing the freight will evolve into a lorry depot.
Even though an SRFI is inching closer to fruition, the land at the former airfield is still owned by Herts county council.
It has put the Green Belt site up for a 2,000 home development in the St Albans Local Plan.
SADC officers will now more closely consider the site.