Traffic figures challenged at Radlett Rail Freight inquiry

PUBLISHED: 12:40 04 December 2009 | UPDATED: 14:44 06 May 2010

CLAIMS that traffic calculations for the proposed rail freight terminal in Park Street have been dramatically underestimated were put to the public inquiry yesterday (Thursday). As exclusively revealed by the Herts Advertiser last week, Lib Dems have unco

CLAIMS that traffic calculations for the proposed rail freight terminal in Park Street have been dramatically underestimated were put to the public inquiry yesterday (Thursday).

As exclusively revealed by the Herts Advertiser last week, Lib Dems have uncovered what they believe to be a fundamental flaw in Helioslough's application for the Green Belt site.

Warehouse architect David Parry, the chair of St Stephens Lib Dems, started investigating HGV movements when Herts Highways withdrew their objections to the scheme.

He found that the estimated 3,200 lorry trips per day were generated by an extrapolation from actual vehicle movements at terminals in Daventry and Leicestershire.

But the calculations were based on the square footage of warehousing space, even though the proposed buildings at Park Street are far taller and could potentially hold up to double the amount of goods.

In addition, the storage height is likely to require different loading systems which will result in goods being stacked far closer together than in smaller warehouses.

Sandy Walkington, prospective Lib Dem parliamentary candidate, was the first to speak about the revelations during Public Day at the inquiry.

He said the local roads will be overwhelmed by even more HGVs than originally predicted and that the Highways Agency concerns will be further amplified.

"All the assumptions about highways capacity must be re-examined from scratch," Mr Walkington insisted.

Mr Parry pointed out that the volumetric capacity of the proposed scheme exceeds five million cubic metres and therefore each house in Park Street, Chiswell Green, Bricket Wood and London Colney could fit into the warehouses.

He said the traffic estimations are fundamentally flawed and will be at least double the predicted figure in reality.

"When we take into account the appellants miscalculation in lorry numbers I seriously question the viability of this depot if built to its design capacity, and wonder if we are in danger of destroying a valuable Green Belt site to allow the creation of the world's worst zoo, with a five million cubic metre white elephant as its only exhibit."

Helioslough junior barrister David Forsdick said the formula for traffic calculations had been accepted at other developments and asked Mr Parry how he had concluded that the high storage levels would be as intensely used as the lower levels.

He replied: "I don't design three-storey houses to only use two of the floors."

Local resident Chris Brown also gave evidence on the subject having made further calculations to support Mr Parry's claims, which found that there would be 5,333 HGV movements each day and made assessments on stock turnovers.

Speaking today, Mr Walkington said: "It is quite clear that we have struck a real nerve with Helioslough. Their counsel seemed quite hurt at the press coverage we have achieved.

"Rather than trying to beat up on witnesses who are not paid, who have to take time off work, and who don't have massive resources at their disposal, it would be far better if Helioslough simply got a signed statement from their professional traffic advisers confirming that they did take into account the greater storage volume per square metre of floorspace at Radlett compared with other sites.

"I suspect that is a question they don't want to ask - I wonder why not...


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Herts Advertiser. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Herts Advertiser