St Albans MP calls on county to think again over rail freight sale

St Albans MP Anne Main

St Albans MP Anne Main - Credit: Archant

MP Anne Main is urging the county council to explore other options for Radlett Airfield which means they can refuse to sell it and not fall foul of a legal challenge.

She maintains that there are inconsistencies in the document going to cabinet on Monday week which suggests that the county council can sell the land twice – once for the rail freight scheme and after its life span is up, for housing.

She points out that county councillors are under the mistaken impression that they can get two lump sum payments and it is in their interest to sell it now.

Mrs Main, MP for St Albans, said that the assumption was not based on anything that Helioslough had agreed to and assumed that the developer would be happy to relinquish control after 30 years.

The MP has never accepted that the Helioslough business case for the SRFI stands up and believes that the developer will inevitably be reliant on selling the land on for another form of development to make a profit. The assumption that they might be prepared to lease the land was therefore implausible.

Mrs Main said: “This has all the makings of a costly legal tangle which would ill serve the people of Hertfordshire.

“I anticipated that the county might find itself feeling obliged to sell the land in order to meet fiduciary duties which is why I have written to the county urging them to look at the long term view, which I believe gives them the opportunity to refuse to sell to the developer on the grounds that it might wish to consider that land an asset for future local need.

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“I am adamant that the developer should not get its hands on this piece of land and I am urging the council to explore other options whereby they can refuse to sell and still not fall foul of a legal challenge.”

She added: “The suggestion that the council can lease this land for rail freight and then sell it on for development afterwards is implausibly optimistic to say the least. I will continue to fight the proposal and I believe I have given the council a perfectly defensible reason to reject selling this land for short term gain.”