Government inspector throws out bid for giant rail freight depot on Green Belt land at Park Street

PUBLISHED: 11:26 02 October 2008 | UPDATED: 13:37 06 May 2010

A computer-generated impression of the proposed rail freight depot

A computer-generated impression of the proposed rail freight depot

VICTORY has been declared against the developer who wanted to build a huge rail freight terminal on Green Belt land in Park Street. The long-awaited outcome of the planning inquiry set after St Albans District Council refused planning permission to devel

VICTORY has been declared against the developer who wanted to build a huge rail freight terminal on Green Belt land in Park Street.

The long-awaited outcome of the planning inquiry set after St Albans District Council refused planning permission to developer Helioslough for a 3.5million square foot depot came this morning (Thursday).

Cllr Chris Brazier, the district council's planning portfolio holder, said that the Government planning inspector's decision to dismiss Helioslough's appeal was "great news".

The planning inquiry, which spanned more than seven weeks late last year, was the most expensive ever heard in the district and cost the council about £400,000 to fight.

The proposal for the depot on the former Radlett Airfield included five huge warehouses with 20-metere-high lighting masts and parking for more than 2,000 vehicles.

Helioslough had also promised a by-pass for Park Street and the creation of a country park alongside the terminal to mitigate the loss of Green Belt land.

The council's decision to refuse the application received overwhelming support from Herts County Council, the East of England Regional Assembly and the Highways Agency.

The impact on the Green Belt has emerged as the main reason why the plan for the rail freight depot was turned down.

In her report, Hazel Blears, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, concluded that it would constitute inappropriate development in the Green Belt.

She felt it would cause a substantial loss of openness, significant encroachment into the countryside and contribute to urban sprawl.

Ms Blears also attached some weight to the impact it would have on the historic city of St Albans.

But she pointed out that had applicants Helioslough demonstrated that there were no alternative sites for a strategic rail freight depot to serve London and the South East, it could have outweighed the harm to the Green Belt.

Commenting on the outcome, St Albans MP Anne Main said: “This is the right decision. We want freight off our roads but don’t want lorry parks in the Green Belt.

The massive opposition to this proposal has been demonstrated time and time again over the last few years and it was always very clear that St Albans did not want this wholly inappropriate proposal.”

Sandy Walkington, the prospective LibDem Parliamentary candidate for St Albans, said: "It's brilliant news and it's a triumph for Park Street and St Albans' residents who sent petitions, turned up at meetings in their hundreds and just did not give up in their fight against this nonsense proposal.

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