St Albans district council could appeal rail freight decision

St Albans district council considers appeal against High Court’s rail freight decision

LAST week’s decision to order the Government to reconsider proposals for a huge rail freight terminal on the outskirts of St Albans could be appealed by the district council.

The High Court quashed the Secretary of State (SoS) for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles’ rejection for the 3.5 million square metre foot scheme on Green Belt land in Park Street on the grounds that he had not made clear one of his four reasons for overrulling the planning inspector who had recommended granting permission.

In his decision, Mr Pickles argued that a similar proposal in Colnbrook, Slough, could potentially meet the need for such a development without causing as much harm to the Green Belt as the proposal for the former Radlett Airfield would.

But Judge Milwyn Jarman QC agreed that developers HelioSlough had a case that the SoS had misunderstood the importance of the Strategic Gap between London and Slough in his findings but rejected three other grounds of challenge.

The decision means that Mr Pickles will be expected to reconsider the proposals, which include parking for thousands of cars, five large warehouses – one as big as Heathrow’s Terminal Five – and a new bypass for Park Street.

The SoS, the district council and Goodman Ltd – the developers behind the alternative scheme in Colnbrook – have been given until Monday, July 11, to lodge an appeal against the decision at the Court of Appeal.

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Campaign group STRiFE, which has vigorously fought the proposals, will also be seeking legal advice this week.

A spokesperson for the district council confirmed that it is taking legal advice on the judgement and is considering an appeal.

Cllr Teresa Heritage, portfolio holder for planning and conservation, said: “The council is disappointed that the SoS for Communities and Local Government’s decision has been set aside and we are taking legal advice on our position.”