The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has said he is “minded to approve” planning permission for the Park Street rail freight interchange subject to various conditions.
In a letter dated 20 December 2012, the Secretary of State proposes to defer his final decision on the appeal. He is seeking a Section 106 planning obligation - an obligation to fund various infrastructure requirements - from the developers Helioslough. The Secretary of State proposes to allow until 28 February 2013 for the planning obligation to be submitted. He then intends to proceed to final decision “as soon as possible”.
Cllr Teresa Heritage, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Conservation, St Albans City and District Council said: “I am disappointed that the Secretary of State is minded to allow planning permission for the rail freight interchange in Park Street.
“In the letter he says that the proposal would be inappropriate development in the Green Belt and that it is harmful as such. He also agrees with the planning Inspector’s analysis that concludes that the proposal would have a substantial impact on the openness of the Green Belt.
“The Secretary of State acknowledges that the proposed development would result in significant encroachment into the countryside, contribute to urban sprawl and cause some harm to the setting of St Albans.
“We continue to believe that building a rail freight interchange at this site will harm the District’s Green Belt and is contrary to our Development Plan.”
In the letter, the Secretary of State refers to government policies regarding the provision of rail freight terminals and concluded that in this case there were very special circumstances which warranted his intention to grant planning permission for a SRFI* in the Green Belt.
The Council is now taking legal advice regarding the content of the Secretary of State’s letter.
Councillor contact: Cllr Teresa Heritage, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Conservation, St Albans City and District Council, Tel: 01582 761014; Mobile: 07866 458977
Contact for the press: Claire Wainwright, Principal Communications and Marketing Officer, St Albans City and District Council, Tel: 01727 819572, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
*Strategic Rail Freight Interchange