Meeting to decide of Radlett rail freight inquiry delay

PUBLISHED: 09:02 28 August 2009 | UPDATED: 14:24 06 May 2010

A PRE-inquiry meeting next month will decide whether or not to put back the date of the rail freight public inquiry scheduled for November 24. St Albans council has asked the Planning Inspectorate for more time to prepare their case to fight the proposals

A PRE-inquiry meeting next month will decide whether or not to put back the date of the rail freight public inquiry scheduled for November 24.

St Albans council has asked the Planning Inspectorate for more time to prepare their case to fight the proposals for a massive rail freight depot in Park Street at public inquiry for the second time.

And while the inspector is not yet shifting on the date, St Albans council's planning portfolio holder, Cllr Chris Brazier, said this week that he had agreed to hear the local authority's reasons for wanting a delay at the pre-inquiry meeting in mid September.

The date of the inquiry, which was revealed in last week's Herts Advertiser, has been imposed by the inspector because of an impasse between developers Helioslough, who wanted it on October 20, and the district council which felt it would not be in a position to fight the appeal until January 12. Sixteen days have been pencilled in for the inquiry - considerably shorter than the previous one into Helioslough's first application for the Radlett Airfield site - and the council will ask for it to be extended to 24 days.

But it has earmarked £400,000 for the appeal which is a similar amount to the cost of the previous inquiry.

The first inquiry from Helioslough was turned down by then Secretary of State for Local Government Hazel Blears but she left the door open to the developers to come back by saying she would have been minded to approve it had Helioslough been able to prove there were no alternative sites in the south east.

Helioslough has since warned the district council that it will try to claim the costs of the inquiry if it contests every point of the refusal of planning permission last month.

But Cllr Brazier said this week that they had to treat the application as a new one and they had 14 valid reasons for refusing it - more than last time.

He added: "At the public meeting I made it clear that we would not decide a planning application on costs but on merit and would defend our democratic decision in planning terms and not on costs."

He pointed out that equally the council might have good grounds for claiming costs from Helioslough once the inquiry was over.


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