Rail Freight planning committee decision

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News release: 02 November 2006

The planning application for the development of a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange submitted to the Council by Helioslough Ltd, was considered by the Planning Referrals Committee, in the Council Chamber on Wednesday 1st November at 7pm.

At the meeting the 300 people who filled the Council Chamber, three committee rooms and an overflow hall at St Luke’s Church, and the 497 who watched the committee on the internet, heard that the Committee is minded to refuse the application for the following reasons:-

  • The site is within the Metropolitan Green Belt in the Hertfordshire County Structure Plan and St Albans District Local Plan Review 1994

  • The size, height and scale of the development would damage the open character of the Green Belt between Park Street and London Colney. It would also be out of character with the adjoining villages of Park Street, Frogmore and Napsbury and have a detrimental effect on the adjacent conservation areas.

  • The proposal for the country park, landscape and ecological improvements intended to offset the losses associated with the development are unacceptable and the funding plans aren’t clearly defined.

  • Network Rail have not confirmed the rail capacity so it is unclear whether the proposed development will achieve the benefits intended by increasing rail freight at the expense of road freight.

  • The survey on noise levels indicates unacceptably high levels of noise at night-time for residents on the eastern side of Park Street and Frogmore.

  • The use of 20 metre high masts with floodlighting across the railway sidings and freight interchange are likely to have adverse effects on the highway and to local residents.

  • The applicants’ traffic assessment indicates an expected increase in traffic on the A414 of over 10%. As the A414 is already near capacity, Hertfordshire’s County Council and Hertfordshire Highways have concerns with the following aspects:-

  • Safety and congestion likely to be caused by the new proposed roundabout on the A414 which has insufficient capacity for queuing traffic

  • The ability of the proposed traffic lights at Park Street and London Colney roundabouts to handle the increase in traffic

  • The possibility that the amount of new traffic generated may have been underestimated

  • The impact of changing traffic flows on the A5183 and the Park Street / Frogmore bypass is inadequately assessed.

  • That the target of achieving 35% of journeys in shared cars is unachievable.

  • The applicant has failed to take measures to offset the harm to the local ecology and archaeology.

This is not a final decision because the applicant has not provided sufficient information for the Highways Agency to ascertain the full impact of the proposal on the motorway and trunk roads concerned.

A further meeting of the Planning Committee will be arranged once the Council have received the Highways Agency’s report. This is likely to be in the New Year, when a final decision will be made.

Dean Goodman, Head of Planning and Building Control commented: ’It was important that the Council, through its main Planning Committee, indicate its considered reaction to this proposed development. When we have the report of the Highways Agency, a further meeting of the Committee will take place.’

The Committee was also informed that those members of the public who could not attend the meeting had left their signatures as a record of their opposition to the scheme.

For any queries relating to the planning application, please contact the Planning Department on 01727 819345.

Davina Mansell, Press Officer
Email: d.mansell@stalbans.gov.uk