Beds, Herts & Bucks

Radlett rail depot: Helioslough given three months to agree developer contributions

A decision about a proposed rail depot on greenbelt land near St Albans has been delayed by a further three months, the government says.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said in December, following two planning appeals, he was "minded to grant approval" to develop Radlett Airfield.

This was subject to developer contributions being agreed with the county council by the end of February.

Developers now have until 15 November to reach such an agreement.

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

Developer HelioSlough Ltd said its plans followed government policies to transport goods by rail and argued that 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 in Berkshire.

No agreement

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 agreements about what money the developer would give to the county council, known as Section 106 agreements.

Mr Pickles had allowed until 28 February for the submission of a suitable planning obligation, but extended this to 28 March at the developers' request.

On Thursday, the Secretary of State said as the department had not received an agreement, it was allowing them further three calendar months.

A spokeswoman for Helioslough Ltd said it had been "encouraged that the secretary of state was minded to approve its plans" and its position had not changed.

St Albans MP Anne Main said she welcomed the delay.

"It gives more time for questions of compensation and consideration of blight to be discussed prior to any decision being taken, which has been totally overlooked so far," she said.

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