Major flaw in St Albans rail freight plans?

PUBLISHED: 15:00 27 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:41 06 May 2010

David Parry (front) and Sandy Walkington

David Parry (front) and Sandy Walkington

A MAJOR flaw in the rail freight terminal proposal has been exposed by Lib Dems who claim it has resulted in a dramatic underestimation of lorry movements. The miscalculation of traffic going to and from the proposed site on Green Belt land in Park Stree

A MAJOR flaw in the rail freight terminal proposal has been exposed by Lib Dems who claim it has resulted in a dramatic underestimation of lorry movements.

The miscalculation of traffic going to and from the proposed site on Green Belt land in Park Street is the result of a flawed formula used by developers Helioslough according to parliamentary candidate for St Albans Sandy Walkington and his colleague David Parry.

Mr Parry, who is the chairman of the St Stephen Lib Dems and an architect specialising in warehouse design, made the discovery when he analysed the highways data following Herts Highways withdrawal of their objections to the scheme.

The estimated 3,000 additional HGV movements a day - which were accepted as fact by all sides at the first public inquiry - were generated by an extrapolation from actual vehicle movements at terminals in Daventry and Leicestershire.

But it seems that the calculations have been based on the square footage of warehousing space even though the proposed buildings at Park Street are around eight metres taller than at the other two depots which means they have a far greater volume.

And Mr Walkington said the five warehouses, which would be 20 metres in height, would have a likely internal storage height of 18 metres which required different loading systems and resulted in goods being stacked far closer together than in other such buildings.

In reality, Mr Parry and Mr Walkington believe there could be as much as double the number of lorries on local roads should the 3.5 million square foot scheme gets the go-ahead following the second public inquiry which started on Tuesday.

Mr Walkington submitted a letter - seen exclusively by the Herts Advertiser last week - to planning inspector Andrew Mead which called for the inquiry to be adjourned in light of the revelations.

While Mr Mead acknowledged the importance of the findings in his opening remarks, he declined the request and said the issue would be explored when both Lib Dems give their evidence at the inquiry within the next few weeks.

Although the letter was supposedly forwarded to all parties on Friday, November 20, Helioslough said that they had not seen the document when the inquiry opened.

Mr Walkington said: "I am only a layman in these matters. But I do note that all data about warehousing talks in square footage rather than volume - it just seems to be taken for granted. The elephant has been in the corner and nobody has noticed it - until now."

He added: "This means that the previous inquiry was misinformed as to lorry movements and the inspector's decision that the local road network could cope was based on false evidence. The local roads will be overwhelmed and the balance of movement between road and rail will be radically altered making it far more obviously a road distribution site.


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