New public meeting to be considered to discuss development the size of 100 football pitches near Northampton after some villagers locked out

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A new public meeting could be held for worried Blisworth residents after so many turned up at the village hall on Monday that people were queuing in the street.

It is estimated that 350 residents arrived in the hope of hearing the truth about plans for a huge rail depot near Northampton.

Some of those inside complained they could not hear what the representative of Ashfield Land was saying during his 15 minute presentation.

As a result, a new meeting at a different location is being sought.

Blisworth Parish Council said: “We will be contacting the developers to arrange another meeting in a larger venue with speakers and the ability to ensure all can hear and be heard.

“We will advise as soon as this is arranged via Facebook, and our website.”

But one villager Mark Redding, who is unofficially co-ordinating villagers, said he at least was heartened by this week’s gathering.

He said: “It was proof that people know and that there is intense opposition and passion in Blisworth.

“It shows the community is ready to battle against this.

“As a village we have the choice of doing nothing or fighting for the village we love.”

NOTE A previous version of this story stated that the former Young’s Nurseries has been purchased by Ashfield Land. We accept this is not correct and apologise for the error.

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Rail depot would be size of 100 football pitches

Residents are worried about plans for a huge rail freight depot they fear would join a village to Northampton.

The Rail Central plan has been put forward by Ashfield Land, which has acquired, or has options on, most of the land between Blisworth and Milton Malsor, stretching from the A43 to the A508.

Similar to the DIRFT site near Crick, it would see the building of warehouses, new rail sidings, a hotel, a pub and restaurant, a service depot and HGV parking. However at eight million square feet, it would dwarf even DIRFT, which currently covers about 6.2 million square feet.

Mark Redding, a Blisworth resident, said: “Traffic through the village now is fairly chaotic, but with 8,000 new jobs there will be a huge number of new commuters, many of who will want to use the village. I’m also concerned that it will be a 24-hour operation.

“Being not far from Northampton you expect to be attacked by developers, but not like this.”

It is understood that HGVs will use the A43 and most new commuters would be likely to use the main road from Milton Malsor to Blisworth.

The development would be so big it will effectively join the two villages, which are just over mile apart.

June Hawkins, deputy leader of Blisworth Parish Council, said: “I’ve never seen a plan this size. We’ll lose our identity as a village if this goes ahead; we’re gradually becoming part of Northampton now.”

The news will be a particular blow to Milton Malsor villagers, who successfully battled kitchens firm Howdens, leading it to withdraw from its own plans for a 2.5m sq ft warehouse for the area only in June 2015.

Ashfield Land said the Government is very keen to switch long distance freight from roads and motorways to rail as much as possible.

The location between Blisworth and Milton Malsor is ideal, the developer says, because it is both near the M1 and where the Northampton Loop rail line meets the West Coast Main Line. DIRFT, by contrast, is served only by the Northampton Loop.

Claire Cope, planning director for Rail Central, said: “Moving goods and products around the country effectively and efficiently is crucial for the economy, for competitiveness, and for the environment – and our national planning policy supports investment into more freight on rail.”

Because of the high priority placed on reducing road freight, the ultimate decision on whether Rail Central proceeds will be taken by the Government rather than locally.

The first stage is scheduled to be up and running by 2021.

NOTE A previous version of this story stated that the former Young’s Nurseries has been purchased by Ashfield Land. We accept this is not correct and apologise for the error.