HelioSlough’s plans to build a 3.5m sq ft rail freight depot near Radlett in Hertfordshire have been rejected by Department for Communites and Local Communities secretary Hazel Blears.

The planning inspectorate informed St Albans District Council of its decision this morning.

Helioslough had wanted to build five warehouses with lighting masts, including parking for 2,000 vehicles.

Last year, a planning inquiry was launched into the proposals from the joint venture between Helios and Segro for the site after the district council refused planning permission in February 2007.

But the plans were opposed by local pressure group Stop The Rail Freight Exchange (STRIFE) as well as local councils, including the Liberal Democrats, which said it was delighted with today’s outcome.

‘We are extremely disappointed with the decision,’ Helios’s co-founder Mike Hughes said. ‘However, we are gratified that in the Secretary of State’s detailed reasoning, she recognises the country’s need for strategically located rail-served distribution hubs of the type promoted at Radlett and accepts the principle that they may be best located on Green belt sites.

‘The decision in respect of Radlett hinges principally on the methodology employed in the analysis of suitable alternative sites. We are reviewing this and the decision in general together with our legal planning advisers.