Could rail freight site become Strategic Gap for St Albans?

Computer-generated image of the proposed rail freight terminal in Park Street

Computer-generated image of the proposed rail freight terminal in Park Street - Credit: Archant

An anti rail freight campaigner is waiting to hear whether or not the district council had ever considered classifying Green Belt land in Park Street as a Strategic Gap.

Andy Love has submitted a Freedom of Information (FoI) request to St Albans council in the wake of a government decision to refuse a similar rail freight depot scheme in Colnbrook, Slough, because of the irreparable damange which would be caused to the area’s designated Strategic Gap - the Metropolitan Green Belt land between settlements.

That decision has prompted Mr Love to question whether or not St Albans council had considered designating Park Street as a Strategic Gap. He believes that if they had, it would have given the then Secretary of State Eric Pickles, who granted planning permission to Helioslough to build a rail freight interchange on the former Radlett Airfield, a reason to turn it down as one of his successors had gone in Colnbrook..

Mr Love said the issue could still be an important one because it would enable St Albans MP Anne Main to argue in government that the designation had now changed and the outline planning permission shoud be revisited.

Had the council decided not to classify the Park Street land as a Strategic Gap, he is asking why they decided not to do so.

Mr Love added: “This may also make planning applications for alternative uses such as housing more acceptable as the land could then be viewed as being on the same level as all other areas of Green Belt in the district.”

The council has until next Thursday, December 22, to respond to his FoI request.