UPDATE: Planning permission granted for Park Street rail freight terminal

Computer-generated image of the proposed rail freight terminal in Park Street

Computer-generated image of the proposed rail freight terminal in Park Street - Credit: Archant

Planning permission has been given by government for the building a major rail freight interchange in Park Street.

St Albans MP Anne Main was told today in a letter from Planning Minister Nick Boles on behalf of Communities and Local Government Secretay Eric Pickles that the appeal by Helioslough to build on the Green Belt site of the former Radlett Airfield had been successful.

Among the issues which have swung the government decision is assurances given by Network Rail that the Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) proposed by developers Helioslough can operate in tandem with passenger services and pathways into and out of it can be established.

The decision notice also says that in the government’s view no other site would be a suitable substitute and all Section 106 planning obligations in relation to Radlett Airfield had been agreed.

Much of the site is owned by Herts county council which agreed earlier this year that it would not make a decision about selling it to Helioslough until Mr Pickles, who had already said he was ‘minded’ to approve the scheme, made an ‘absolute decision’.

The ball will now be in the county council’s court and it will have to decide whether or not to sell or look at any other possible use for the land.

Mrs Main said today: “We had the incinerator decision last week and I felt sure this would come out soon after.

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“Just because you have permission to develop doesn’t mean you have to develop and we have to secure the land. I will be urging Herts county council to sit down with St Albans district council because it is still very much up in the air what Green Belt land St Albans wants to release for development.”

Mrs Main added: “I am absolutely gutted but not surprised this has happened but there may well be a Judicial Review or the possibility of a sensitive development for the benefit of the people of St Albans.”

Labour councillor for London Colney, Jacob Quagliozzi, said: “Today’s decision on Railfrieght is a hammer blow to London Colney and surrounding villages as well as the rest of St Albans. It is an insult to the more than 10,000 people who have signed the anti-railfreight petition and the many more who have campaigned against this proposal over the last few years.

“I expect the leaders of the main parties on the district council to convene a meeting as soon as is possible to discuss what options are available to the council to challenge the decision. But there can be no dressing this up, this is a terrible day for St Albans.”