Ex-St Albans MP puts feelers out over Radlett rail freight site

The proposed site of the Radlett rail freight depot

The proposed site of the Radlett rail freight depot - Credit: Archant

With the future of Radlett Airfield still undecided, possible alternatives to a massive rail freight terminal continue to be aired for the site dubbed “a developer’s dream”.

While St Albans continues to wait for a final decision by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles on Helioslough’s controversial strategic rail freight scheme, some in the building sector are eagerly eyeing up the Park Street site.

At the end of last year, landowner Herts county council deferred a decision on selling the 119-hectare site to Helioslough, saying it would instead consider “rational” alternative schemes for the land.

St Albans City Football Club has since spoken of its willingness to build a stadium and houses there, and has been in discussion with the council over its proposal.

And now Labour parliamentary hopeful Kerry Pollard and Matthew Briffa, principal architect at Briffa Phillips Ltd in Holywell Hill, have joined forces to call for more public debate on future use of the airfield.

They have said they are thinking about “how the site might offer new opportunities for all sectors of our community.”

Mr Briffa added: “The agenda has changed for Radlett Airfield. This is a golden opportunity to have debate about its future in St Albans.

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“We don’t want a place planned by highways engineers.”

He and Mr Pollard said that with St Albans suffering a shortage of land for housing, the site could provide for a combination of uses – public open space, a hub for small businesses, new primary school, affordable and other housing.

Mr Briffa said that with a growing number of residents running businesses from home, the airfield could provide a new hub to allow them to expand.

Former St Albans MP Mr Pollard, who was project consultant on the Chiswell Green Hotel scheme, added: “The airfield is a developer’s dream because it is flat, there is nothing on it, and has good access.

“But residents need to drive the agenda on its future, rather than a marketing person hundreds of miles away.

“Herts county council has offered a lifeline for the airfield, and we are keen to start the debate on it.”