Rail freight depot battlers to meet over new planning bid

PUBLISHED: 09:54 10 December 2008 | UPDATED: 13:48 06 May 2010

A BRIEFING about the prospect of a new application for a giant rail freight depot in the district is being held tomorrow (Friday) afternoon. All interested parties, ranging from Park Street councillors and action groups STRiFE and Hands Off Herts to MP An

A BRIEFING about the prospect of a new application for a giant rail freight depot in the district is being held tomorrow (Friday) afternoon.

All interested parties, ranging from Park Street councillors and action groups STRiFE and Hands Off Herts to MP Anne Main and the two prospective Parliamentary candidates Sandy Walkington and Roma Mills, have been invited to the meeting in St Albans District Council chamber.

It has been called by St Albans planning portfolio holder Cllr Chris Brazier in response to developers Helioslough announcing their intention last month to submit a new planning application for the former Radlett Airfield.

An environmental scoping document has already been submitted to district council planners but the application will not follow until the New Year.

Cllr Brazier said the meeting was a chance for all parties to be briefed about the current situation and what the council was doing.

He stressed that the rail freight depot proposal was an all-party one. "It would affect the whole of St Albans and it doesn't matter what party you are part of, it is going to have an impact on all."

Helioslough's bid to build the rail freight depot on the former airfield was turned down by the district council supported by other bodies including Herts County Council, the East of England Regional Assembly and train company First Capital Connect.

It went to a seven-week public inquiry in February and was turned down by Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Hazel Blears in October.

But while she rejected it, she left the door open for Helioslough by saying that she was refusing it on one ground only - that the developers had not done sufficient work on establishing whether there were alternative sites for a strategic rail freight depot in the south east.

Simon Hoare, on behalf of Helioslough, said last month that the proposal would remain the same. He said: "We have put a huge amount of money into this and a vast amount of time and energy has been expended over the last five years on this proposal. If we didn't feel that this was an issue that we couldn't nail, we wouldn't be resubmitting.


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