Strategic Rail Freight Interchange, Colne Valley 16Jul2014

Strategic Rail Freight Interchange, Colne Valley

The Secretary of State has issued his long awaited decision on Helioslough’s appeal against St. Albans City & District Council’s refusal to grant planning permission for a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange at Colne Valley, Hertfordshire.

The Secretary of State, in his decision letter, found that the project would be inappropriate development in the green belt, that it would cause harm to the historic setting of St.Albans and that it would cause have adverse effects on ecology and landscape.

However, against this harm the Secretary of State weighed the need for SRFI’s to serve London and the South East and the lack of alternative locations which would cause less harm to the greenbelt. Taken together with the other benefits of the scheme, which include a local country park, improvements to footpaths and bridleways and a bypass the Secretary of State concluded that very special circumstances existed to justify development on the greenbelt.

Assuming that there is no further legal challenge this decision marks the end of a long road for the developer Helioslough.

The appeal, which was originally heard at a public inquiry between 24th November and 18th December 2009 was recovered for the Secretary of State’s determination who issued his decision in July 2010. However, this was quashed by the High Court in July 2011 following a successful legal challenge and had fallen to the Secretary of State to re-determine.  

The decision is a both a positive indication of the government’s support for Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges and a note of caution on the need to fully consider alternatives where promoting development on the greenbelt.

Zyda Law have advised on proposed Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges In Manchester, Milton Keynes, Isle of Grain and Colnbrook, near Heathrow.  We are leading development consent specialists.  To discuss the implications of the Colne Valley decision, or your own development proposals, please contact:

Paul Zyda, Principal (, or

Jonathan Leary, Assistant (

15 July 2014