County council urged not to sell land for St Albans rail freight project

PUBLISHED: 12:00 27 March 2015 | UPDATED: 06:36 30 March 2015

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

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


Pressure is mounting on the county council not to sell land earmarked for a giant rail freight interchange to developers Helioslough.

With St Albans council still deliberating over this month’s High Court ruling which backed the decision by Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles, to grant Helioslough planning permission to develop the former Radlett Airfield, the county council is now in the spotlight.

It owns a large part of the former airfield in Park Street and should St Albans council decide not to continue legal action against the High Court ruling, it will have to decide whether or not to sell the land to the developers.

Commenting on the High Court decision, St Stephen parish council which includes Park Street, has pledged to continue to lobby the county council to find alternative and equally valuable uses for the site which would cause less disruption, fewer traffic movements and be of benefit to ther area.

Parish council chairman, Cllr Mick Freeman, commented: “The fight is not necessarily over yet though as part of the site is still owned by the county council.

“There have also been other sites where permission has been granted but te terminals never built and alternative uses, such as housing and retail, were found so there is still the possibility that it won’t happen.”

Cllr Bill Pryce, who represents Park Street on the parish council, added: “Our last opportunity to prevent the rail freight terminal from eing built and becoming a blight on the lives of all who live in the vicinity, now lies with Hertfordshire county council.”

County councillor for Park Street, Aislinn Lee, has already been lobbying county council leader, Cllr Robert Gordon, over the issue.

She has called on Cllr Gordon not to be Eric Pickles’s ‘puppet’ and be bullied into selling it with the threat of a compulsory purchase order.

Cllr Lee also reminded Cllr Gordon about the strength of feeling over the issue which had resulted in a petition with over 10,000 signatures, the largest ever received by the county council.

She added: “This large swathe of land is the last piece of Green Belt between us and London.”

The county council will not consider the future of the land until after April 13, the date by which the district council has to decide whether to go to the Court of Appeal to challenge the High Court ruling.

A petition has been set up urging the county council not to sell the site - sign it here.

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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