St Albans council refused judicial review over rail depot

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A council has been refused permission to take legal action against the government for not reassessing plans to build a rail depot on greenbelt land.

St Albans council had applied for a judicial review of the communities secretary's decision to approve the Radlett Airfield proposals.

It wanted the planning inquiry reopened and looked at in conjunction with a similar scheme in Berkshire.

A High Court judge said Eric Pickles' decision was legal.

The council will have to pay £2,000 in costs.

Similar scheme

Planning permission for the Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) on green-belt land was originally refused by St Albans council in 2009.

Developer HelioSlough Ltd said its plans followed government policies to transport goods by rail. It said the terminal was needed to serve south-east England.

In September 2012 - following two appeals - Mr Pickles said he was considering looking at the plans for the Radlett development alongside an inquiry into a similar scheme at Colnbrook, near Slough.

But in December he decided he could determine the Radlett proposal on its own and said he was "minded to approve" planning permission, subject to various conditions. A final decision has not been made.

'Flawed' decision

St Albans City and District Council applied for a judicial review in February on the grounds the minister's decision had been "flawed".

But in a High Court order the judge said its claim was "misconceived".

He said there was no evidence to show the secretary of state's decision was "in any way legally flawed" and because no decision had been made the claim was "premature".

The council can apply for a further hearing before a High Court judge, but a spokesman said it would consult legal advisors before deciding the next course of action.

HelioSlough is currently applying for its own judicial review to force Mr Pickles to make an immediate final judgement.

A spokeswoman said: "We were encouraged that the secretary of state was minded to grant permission in December and we await a decision."

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