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Rail depot plans thrown out

PUBLISHED: 11:59 10 December 2009 | UPDATED: 16:36 07 September 2010

PLANS to build a vast rail depot in Hornsey have been put on ice after the government refused to give developers the go-ahead. Network Rail, which operates Britain s railway infrastructure, planned to erect a huge 280 metre long storage a

Charlotte Newton

PLANS to build a vast rail depot in Hornsey have been put on ice after the government refused to give developers the go-ahead.

Network Rail, which operates Britain's railway infrastructure, planned to erect a huge 280 metre long storage and maintenance depot, which would have been 13 metres tall and eight tracks wide, to store new longer trains in.

The rail company had said that the expansion was crucial to the £5.5billion Thameslink program-me, which will bring longer trains into use in time for the 2012 Olympics.

Network Rail had permitted development rights because it owned the site - which meant it could by-pass Haringey Council's planning department to develop it.

But on Tuesday afternoon, John Denham MP, the minister for local government, blocked the scheme after a vociferous campaign by Haringey councillors.

Claire Kober, leader of the council, said: "We are very pleased we have been listened to. A development like this requires proper consideration by the council and the community and the use of permitted development for this purpose is not acceptable. This would prevent the local community having any say at all.

"I am also extremely concerned to ensure that the long-standing regeneration of Haringey Heart-lands is properly considered in any subsequent application for planning permission as a development like this could have grave consequences for the whole community."

Ms Kober had argued that the structure would negatively impact on residents' quality of life. There were concerns that it would blight the view of homeowners in Hornsey's New River Village and to the west of Alexandra Palace.

The council was also anxious about the loss of trees it would create because of plans to build a staff car park on an embankment there.

Concerns were also raised that the development would damage the Haringey Heartland's regeneration project which has been touted as one the most ambitious projects in the borough. It includes a new road linking the east and west of the borough, new homes, shops and a secondary school.

Network Rail initially hoped the depot would be up and running by 2012, with construction taking 18 months to complete.

It envisaged that the depot would become one of just two hubs covering all trains in the South West. Instead, it will now have to apply to the council for planning permission.

A spokesman for Network Rail said: "We have received notice outlining the decision to rule against Network Rail's permitted development rights at Hornsey.

"We are surprised and concerned that the decision was made without Network Rail having the opportunity to set our case. We will be considering immediately how to respond.

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