Double setback for Radlett in its bid to push massive freight development to Colnbrook
In a double blow for Radlett the town has been set back twice this week in its attempt to halt a planned freight interchange on Green Belt and push it to Colnbrook.
The Government has blocked a delay to the town’s second legal challenge to force the provisional decision to build a massive freight interchange there to be re-opened re-considered with Colnbrook as an alternative site. And, on Thursday, it gave developer Helioslough a significant extension to complete negotiations.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has given developer Helioslough a further 3 months to agree “developer contributions” with Hertfordshire County Council.
Pickles said in December he was “minded to approve” the development on the former Radlett Airfield after previously indicating he was considering a “conjoined inquiry” to consider the Radlett scheme in conjunction with the Slough International Freight Exchange (SIFE) proposed in Colnbrook.
That change of heart was the subject in June of a failed bid to the High Court by St Albans District Council for a judicial review of the decision.
Subject to Helioslough and Hertfordshire agreeing acceptable Section 106 payments Mr Pickles has said he will grant permission for Radlett. Pickles had allowed until 28 February, but extended this to 28 March at the request of the council. On Thursday, the Secretary of State said as the department had not received an agreement, it was allowing them the further time. Helioslough now have until 15 November to reach an agreement.
Helioslough have welcomed the news while those against have put on a brave face at the further delay.
The town’s former Labour MP Kerry Pollard told the St Albans and Harpenden Review:
“While ordinary people wait, the developer is given yet another extension to get their house in order. The good news is we have another three months to continue to show Eric Pickles this is the wrong terminal in the wrong town.”
St Albans’ Conservative MP Anne Main – who has fought hard to push the development to Colnbrook – said it would give more time for “questions of compensation and consideration of blight to be discussed prior to any decision being taken”.
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.
Protest group STRiFE said:
“This is good news because we were all expecting the worst news.”
Hertfordshire technically can still refuse to sell the land, and an e-petition calling for the council not to sell managed 10,634 signatures. A Council meeting in March endorsed the sentiments of the petition with a motion of support carried unanimously. However, councillors are powerless as it is a matter for the Executive of the Council to consider.
Meanwhile St Albans District Council’s second High Court challenge to have Radlett and Colnbrook considered together is still due to be heard on 30th August.
St Albans had requested an adjournment of the hearing because their leading barrister has gone on holiday! That has been dismissed by Helioslough and Mr Pickles.
Given the Colnbrook SIFE site has recently been targeted by Heathrow for a third – and possibly fourth – runway in its submission to the Aviation Commission, it is difficult to see what can now be gained by St Albans in attempting to have the two schemes considered together.
SIFE developer Goodman has remained quiet on both the latest developments in St Albans and Heathrow’s counter blueprint for its land in Colnbrook.
Clearly this has some way to run yet. However following Heathrow’s announcement of its ‘North-West option’ last month, Radlett tactics now offer little more than an irritating distraction for Colnbrook in the bigger battle to follow.
Radlett rail depot: Helioslough given three months to agree developer contributions (BBC)
Secretary of state Eric Pickles’ rail freight extension: ‘Three months longer to lobby’, say campaigners (St Albans & Harpenden Review)