Beds, Herts & Bucks

Radlett rail depot: Plans move step forward

Multi-million pound plans for a rail freight terminal in Hertfordshire have moved a step closer after contributions to be paid by the developer were agreed.

HelioSlough wants to build the terminal on the Hertfordshire County Council-owned Radlett Aerodrome site.

The council has deferred a decision to sell the site near St Albans until the government makes its final ruling.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has said he is "minded to allow" the plan.

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, Berkshire.

But in December 2012 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 - a Section 106 agreement.

'Final outcome'

Following a cabinet meeting on Monday, a council spokesman said any decision had been deferred "pending an absolute decision by the secretary of state and the final outcome of any legal challenge to such a decision".

The council said it disagreed with Mr Pickles' conclusion, but acknowledged it was binding therefore agreed to enter into a Section 106 planning obligation agreement.

However, it has also urged Mr Pickles to review his decision, taking into account any change in circumstances since last December and looking at the relative merits of alternative sites.

A HelioSlough spokeswoman said it was "pleased" the council had agreed to enter into the planning obligation agreement as it was an "important step" in delivering the SRFI.

A statement said: "HelioSlough hopes that the secretary of state for communities and local government will now progress from 'minded to grant' outline planning consent."

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