The campaign to prevent development on greenbelt land in Park Street received a blow when Conservative minister Eric Pickles announced that he was “minded to approve” HeliosSlough’s proposal to construct a rail freight terminal on the site. This means that, even if this particular development does not go ahead, the site will now be built upon.
Allowing that ‘something’ will now built on the site, the goal of Hertfordshire County Council should surely be to achieve the best deal for local people. One proposal that has been made is for a mixed use development that would meet the legal requirement on the council to secure “best value” in the sale of the site and deliver benefits for the local community.
This development could:
- Allocate a proportion of the site for community woodland, with public access (which does not exist now);
- Build some homes – much needed here in St Albans;
- Redirect traffic out of Park Street village with a bypass;
- Build a needed new primary school;
- And open up the former Napsbury Halt station, to serve both Park St & London Colney.
The housing development could cover the full spectrum of need: starter homes, council homes at affordable rents (get housing benefit down) and to satisfy general housing need. House prices in St Albans continue to rise rapidly and families and local residents are being priced out of the city. Surely a development which created decent, affordable homes is preferable to an unwanted, disproportionately huge and intrusive industrial development.
Hertfordshire County Council are obliged to get ‘best value’ when they sell of Radlett Airfiled. Selling off this publicly owned asset to HeliosSlough will not achieve that. Use of the land for homes and building new assets that serve the whole community will deliver better value by a considerable margin.
Homes instead of Rail Freight –better financially, better for the community and better for St Albans.