Construction has started on a long-planned logistics park set to spread over 450 acres of land south of Northampton.
The 'Northampton Gateway' park by logistics firm SEGRO was granted planning approval in 2019 despite concerns by campaigners and MPs.The proposal will see developer Roxhill building a rail depot capable of handling up to 16 trains a day on land east of the West Coast Main Line and next to junction 15 of the M1 between Milton Malsor and Collingtree.
It will include including container storage and HGV parking, with landscaping, new access on the A508, a new bypass for Roade, and improvements to J15, as well as creating up to 7,500 of jobs.
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SEGRO’s Managing Director Andrew Pilsworth said: “SEGRO Park Northampton Gateway is excellently located with easy access to key road networks and with the new rail links and Strategic Rail Freight Interchange, will present great opportunities for businesses to flourish.
“Now more than ever are we witnessing the vital role logistics is playing in supporting the UK economy and it’s clear that businesses are relying on well located, sustainable facilities from which they can meet their customers’ demands."
The Gateway scheme was contested during planning proposals after residents raised concerns about its impact on the environment, including the introduction of thousands of more vehicles on the road and increased noise and air pollution.
Further, campaigners 'Stop Northampton Gateway' argued against the freight rail interchange by pointing to existing unused capacity at nearby Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal, as well as capacity constraints on the West Coast Main Line.
The government's approval split opinion between Chronicle & Echo readers on Facebook at the time.HGV driver Marc Whitlock said he welcomed the proposal as lorry parking with facilities is very-much needed nationwide.
"Truck stops, laybys and services get full very quickly at night and lunchtime. Drivers are fed up with parking in unsafe spots with no toilets and having diesel and loads stolen," he commented.
"We are the people who keep your shelves stacked with food. We deliver fuel so you can get to work. All we ask is a safe place to stop and rest with a toilet. Not to much to ask?"
Rod Sellers from Stop Northampton Gateway campaign group said in 2019: "We fail to see how this project is seen as of such ‘national significance’ that it can override the agreed strategic plan for West Northamptonshire, the objections of local MPs, Northamptonshire County Council, scores of local communities and a long list of environmental issues."