Beds, Herts & Bucks

St Albans Council says new rail freight terminal inquiry 'appropriate'

Reopening a planning inquiry for a rail freight terminal at a former aerodrome near St Albans is "appropriate and necessary", the council has said.

The government is looking to reconsider proposals for the depot in Park Street alongside a similar scheme at Colnbrook, near Slough.

Planning permission had originally been refused by St Albans Council.

Developers appealed against the decision for a second time after the first was dismissed by the government.

Last month, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles proposed reopening the inquiry and asked for the views of the council and other interested parties.

In a letter to the Department for Communities and Local Government from its legal department, St Albans Council said it was "of the view that a conjoined inquiry is both appropriate and necessary".

Councillor Julian Daly said part of the council's case at the first inquiry was that the Colnbrook proposal would cause less harm to the Green Belt.

"Reopening the planning inquiry and joining it up with the Colnbrook inquiry is an important step in deciding whether either scheme is to be allowed," he said.

"This will allow us to make points in defence the Green Belt which we would find hard to do if the two applications were addressed separately."

Public inquiry

St Albans City and District Council refused planning permission in 2009, as it considered the proposal would harm the green belt.

Developer HelioSlough Ltd said its plans followed government policies to transport goods by rail not road and that the terminal was needed to serve the whole of south-east England.

A public inquiry was held in 2009, and Mr Pickles dismissed the company's appeal the following year.

However, HelioSlough successfully challenged that decision in the High Court in July 2011, and the matter was referred back to the government.

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