No5 Chambers secures planning permission for SRFI in Hertfordshire green belt

After two planning inquiries and a High Court challenge to overturn the secretary of state’s original refusal of planning permission, a team lead by No5 Chambers’ Martin Kingston QC has succeeded in obtaining planning permission for a 330,000m² strategic rail freight interchange (SRFI) in the green belt in Hertfordshire.

Having originally, in 2010, rejected the inspector’s recommendation to grant planning permission, the secretary of state, in the decision letter issued on the 14 July 2014, said he agreed that the development was inappropriate in the green belt and that the harm arising was substantial. However, he added that he recognised the need for SRFIs and the difficulty of finding suitable sites.

In this case, the site was shown to be suitable and the location an appropriate one. Although there were many arguments raised as to the availability of alternative sites, the secretary of state accepted that there were no more preferable alternative sites available. In the end, the secretary of state accepted that the factors weighing in favour of the grant of planning permission amounted to the necessary, very special circumstances and meant that notwithstanding the substantial harm there was a proper basis for the grant of permission.

This is the second case within a month where the secretary of state has been willing to grant planning permission for very substantial economic development in the green belt, the other being the development at Pinewood Studios, where a team from No5 Chambers also acted.