Secretary of State considers re-opening planning inquiry on proposed rail freight interchange

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News release: 19 September 2012
Rails
The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is seeking views on a revised approach to decision making on the proposed rail-freight terminal in Park Street.    

The Secretary of State has asked St Albans City & District Council for its views on re-opening the inquiry into an appeal by Helioslough Ltd.  The Secretary of State proposes re-opening the inquiry and joining it with the planned inquiry into a proposed strategic rail freight terminal at Colnbrook, Slough.  A DCLG letter of 19 September says his view is that this is “likely to lead to a more coherent and consistent decision-making process overall”. 

Cllr Teresa Heritage, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Conservation at St Albans City and District Council said:  “We note the wish of the Secretary of State to consider the issues raised by the Park Street and Colnbrook proposals together at one inquiry.  We will be responding to the Secretary of State’s letter shortly giving our views on his proposals.”

The Secretary of State has asked for the views of the Council and other interested parties on the proposed approach by 3 October 2012.  


Background

Helioslough Ltd appealed against St Albans City & District Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for a rail freight interchange on land at the former Radlett aerodrome.  A Public Inquiry was held in November and December 2009.  This culminated in a decision by the Secretary of State, dated 7 July 2010, to dismiss the appeal.  

The Council, in its original planning decision, considered that the rail freight proposal would cause harm to the Green Belt.  It also considered that it would be contrary to the Development Plan.

Helioslough challenged the Secretary of State’s July 2010 decision in the High Court.  On 1 July 2011, a High Court Judge quashed the decision on the basis of one of four grounds of challenge put forward by Helioslough.  St Albans City & District Council was a second defendant in the case.  The Judge found that the Secretary of State did not properly explain his reasons for disagreeing with the Planning Inspector’s recommendation that the proposed development be allowed.

The High Court referred the matter back to the Secretary of State to re-determine.  

The Secretary of State invited all parties to the planning appeal, including the Council, to make further written representations.  The Council made its further representations on 14 October 2011.

In a letter dated 29 March 2012, the Secretary of State informed all parties to the appeal that he had decided to delay his decision.  He invited further written representations on the relevance of the recently published National Planning Policy Framework. The Council provided its representations on 16 April 2012.

The Secretary of State has now written to the Council in a letter dated 19 September 2012.  He is seeking views on a proposal to re-open the Radlett inquiry.  He proposes to join it with a planned inquiry into a proposed strategic rail freight terminal at Colnbrook near Slough.  Interested parties are being asked to give their views by 3 October 2012.

 
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 media:
Claire Wainwright, Principal Communications and Marketing Officer, St Albans City and District Council, Tel: 01727 819572, E-mail: claire.wainwright@stalbans.gov.uk