The council has been told again by inspectors to go back to the drawing board on its draft local plan.

The St Alban's District Council may have to withdraw its draft local plan after inspectors said it has not met the "duty to cooperate" with neighbouring authorities.

St Albans District Council has been working on a new local plan to cover aspects such as housing and infrastructure for the period from 2020 to 2036. It was first submitted for examination in March 2019.

But in a letter back in April, the inspectors said their major issues was that the council did not engage properly with neighbouring councils on housing allocation for a Radlett site - that already had planning permission for a rail freight terminal.

In 2014, the then Secretary of State gave outline planning permission for a strategic rail freight terminal at a site near Park Street. But in the draft plan, the site has been identified for housing, not a rail freight terminal.

They added that the council has no cooperated with other bodies on deciding whether the site should be a rail freight terminal or be allocated new homes.

But inspectors said there was a “very strong likelihood” that the plan will have to be withdrawn or that they recommend against the plan being adopted.

The council sent a letter to the inspectors in July addressing the concerns and to request that the plan examination continues.

It argued that the duty to cooperate had been fulfilled in that there had been no capacity for any other council to help them meeting their housing target.

The council claim this view has been supported by Dacorum Borough, Hertsmere, Watford, Three Rivers, Welwyn Hatfield district councils and Hertfordshire County Council.

In its reply, the council said if the inspectors resume their examination then it will agree to accept the SRFI to be built at the Radlett site.

But inspectors have now concluded that in law, they cannot recommend that the duty to cooperate requirements have been met and said as a result the plan should be withdrawn.

In their latest letter by inspectors Louise Crosby and Elaine Worthington said that there was "no evidence" of the SRFI even being discussed as a potential issue to be resolved as part of the plan making process.

They added: "It is clear that the council had no intention of allocating the Radlett site for a SRFI in the plan and that in allocating the site for housing, to help meeting its housing need, it knew that would prevent the creation of the regionally and nationally important SRFI."

Inspectors said even if the council knew that the SRFI could not be accommodated in another local authority area, it should have been discussed as a strategic matter.

They added:"Whilst it may not have been possible for other local authorities to accommodate the SRFI, they may have been able to assist with accommodating some of the St Alban's housing needs."

Inspectors said although it is not a duty to reach a particular outcome in relation to provision of the SRFI, it was said that the council could have arrived at a situation where the SRFI was not allocated but the duty to cooperate had been met because it had engaged constructively.

The issue will be considered by the council's planning policy committee next Tuesday (September 8).