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17th October 2018

This letter is submitted to the Council by Freight on Rail in response to the Council's regulation 19 consultation on the St Albans City & District Draft Local Plan. The submission relates to the Council's proposal to allocate a site at Park Street, St Albans (former Radlett Aerodrome site) for residential development, the site having been proposed and granted planning permission for a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI).

Freight on Rail, a partnership between the rail trade unions, the rail freight industry and Campaign for Better Transport, works to promote the economic, social and environmental benefits of rail freight both nationally and locally. It advocates policy changes that support the shift to rail and provides information and help on freight related issues. We aim to help local authorities, through all the stages of modal shift to rail such as planning a rail freight strategy, accessing grants, understanding technical issues and obstacles and engaging with terminal operators, local business and the logistics industry.

We support the aim of creating a network of Strategic Rail Freight Interchange facilities.  In this context Radlett is very important as it will help improve access to rail services in London and the wider South East region.   Government policy is very clear in its objective of securing a modal shift for freight to be transported by rail rather than by road.  This policy has been made clear in a number of government policy documents including the National Policy Statement for National Networks 2014 (NPS) and the Rail Freight Strategy 2016.

We are aware that Helioslough is actively working on the delivery of the SRFI at Radlett.  Outline planning permission was granted in July 2014 and approvals have been granted for the reserved matters applications to facilitate the delivery of the project.  If the site is now allocated for residential development, the delivery of an important part of the national SRFI network will be frustrated, thus preventing the meeting of important Government policy objectives.    Mode shift cannot be achieved without interchanges. The NPS notes that most intermodal RFI and rail-connected warehousing in London and the South East is on a small scale and/or poorly located, and that the number of locations suitable for SRFIs will be limited, which will restrict the scope for developers to identify viable alternative sites.
It would therefore be a major failure of planning policy if the single largest concentration of population and freight activity in the UK did not have access to rail freight services and the opportunities to effect mode shift achieved by the small number of SRFI established to date.

We would therefore be grateful if the Council could note this representation and our opposition to the allocation of the Radlett site for residential development in the Draft Local Plan.

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