After two planning inquiries and a High Court challenge to overturn the Secretary of States original refusal of planning permission a team lead by Martin Kingston QC have succeeded in obtaining planning permission for a 330,000 m2 Strategic Rail Freight Interchange in the Green Belt in Hertfordshire.

Having originally, in 2010, rejected the Inspectors recommendation to grant planning permission the Secretary of State, in the decision letter issued on the 14th July 2014, said that he agreed that the development was inappropriate development in the Green Belt and that the harm arising and other harm was substantial but he recognised the need for SRFI’s 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 that 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 No. 5 Chambers also acted. The decisions show clearly that a carefully framed and focussed case identifying the relevant policy framework and setting up the very special circumstance in a clear manner is capable of overcoming the very strong resistance to Green Belt development.

Please see link below to the decision.

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