Government ordered to revisit rail freight terminal proposals for Park Street
A MASSIVE blow has been dealt to councillors, campaigners and residents alike this afternoon (Friday) with the news that a massive rail freight terminal on Green Belt land south of the city is back on the cards.
The ruling at the High Court has given developers HelioSlough a fresh chance at securing planning permission for the 3.5 million-square metre scheme on the former Radlett Airfield in Park Street which has already been the subject of two costly planning inquiries.
Deputy Judge Milwyn Jarman quashed Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles’ decision to refuse the strategic rail freight interchange (SRFI) planning permission last year and ordered him to look at the application again.
After the second public inquiry into the district council’s refusal of the scheme in late 2009, the planning inspector that heard the case recommended that it should be given the go-ahead, but Mr Pickles overruled him on the grounds that a similar proposal in Colnbrook, Slough, could potentially meet the need for the site without causing as much harm to the Green Belt.
But Judge Jarman said that HelioSlough had a case that Mr Pickles had failed to understand the importance of the Strategic Gap between London and Slough in his findings.
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He said that it was “not clear” whether the he had misunderstood the Strategic Gap policy, and that his decision letter had been “silent” about whether he had understood his own inspector’s reasoning on the potential impact of the Colnbrook proposal on it.
If permission is granted the terminal will include parking for thousands of cars, five large warehouses – one as big as Heathrow’s Terminal Five – and a new bypass for Park Street.
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Objectors have cited unsustainable increases in traffic and disruption to the Thameslink Line among their many reasons for opposition.
Lawyers for the Secretary of State, St Albans district council, Goodman Logistics Developments (UK) Ltd - the developer behind the rival Colnbrook scheme - and local campaign group STRiFE are to submit written representations by July 8 seeking permission to appeal the decision.