STRiFE Make Their Last Plea To Planning Inspector

PUBLISHED: 14:44 17 December 2009 | UPDATED: 14:47 06 May 2010

THE SPECTRE of a massive rail freight depot in Park Street, looms larger than ever before , action group STRiFE concluded at a public inquiry today (17). In his closing submissions on behalf of STRiFE, barrister Paul Stinchcombe urged planning inspector

THE SPECTRE of a massive rail freight depot in Park Street, "looms larger than ever before", action group STRiFE concluded at a public inquiry today (17).

In his closing submissions on behalf of STRiFE, barrister Paul Stinchcombe urged planning inspector Andrew Mead to dismiss Helislough and their "Trojan Horse" proposal for the development of a rail freight depot on Green Belt land in Park Street.

Addressing the public inquiry which has sat at the district council offices over four weeks, Mr Stinchcombe said that everyone should fear Helioslough's proposal which was the largest inappropriate development ever proposed for the Green Belt in London and the South East.

He said that the massive warehouse development, which has a proposed floor space of over 300,000 square metres, should be refused because, among other reasons, its impact on the openness of that part of the Green Belt which currently separated St Albans from Radlett and London Colney from Park Street would be "massive".

He added: "The Green Belt is a protection intended not as a temporary bulwark against inappropriate development but as a permanent prohibition; a protection which must, not may, be maintained as far as can be seen ahead."

Mr Stinchcombe, who reminded Mr Mead that the largest shed of the five proposed would be bigger than Terminal 5 at Heathrow, also said that the proposal should not be permitted on the "false prospectus" that it could meet the need for the interchange of freight between rail and road, only for it to operate as a predominantly road to road depot.

He also stressed that the decision of the first inquiry in favour of the freight should only be regarded as a "plainly material consideration" in the determination of the appeal: "It is just the starting point; not the end point. The last decision letter is not a mantra that can simply be chanted as an answer to any of the planning arguments before you."

Discussing the possibility of alternative sites, Mr Stinchcombe criticised Helioslough's "plainly wrong" and "falsely founded" assessment - which found clearly in favour of the Park Street site - because all the alternative sites were identically rated.

Mr Stinchcombe, who urged the consideration of alternative sites such as Howbury Park and London Gateway, also claimed that the proposal failed to fulfil the criteria of a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) because, among other reasons, it was too close to residential developments.


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