Consultation dates for Northamptonshire rail depot proposal announced

Boundaries of the proposed Northampton Gateway site (in red), with Collingtree to the northeast.
Boundaries of the proposed Northampton Gateway site (in red), with Collingtree to the northeast.

The developer of a proposed rail depot in Northamptonshire has announced the dates of its phase two public consultation.

Rail Central, who plan to build a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange south of Northampton, announced the consultation will take place between March 15 and April 23.

It includes six public exhibitions in Blisworth, Milton Malsor, Roade and Towcester.

James Digby from Rail Central said: “Consultation is an important part of the overall planning process and we’re keen to receive feedback which can help us to improve the proposals and make them the best they can be.

"Rail Central is a scheme of national significance which responds to national planning policy and would deliver approximately 8,000 jobs and a substantial boost to the economy.

"As we did at phase one, we want to listen to feedback which can contribute to the scheme design and this Phase Two consultation is specifically designed to enable people to participate.”

The phase two consultation will complement 2016's phase one consultation and offers the community, landowners, neighbours and authorities a chance to comment on the proposals before an application for a Development Consent Order (DCO) is made.

The phase two public exhibitions are happening at:

- Walnut Tree Inn, 21 Station Rd, Blisworth NN7 3DS, Thursday March 15, 2pm – 8pm

- Milton Malsor Village Hall, High Street, Milton Malsor, NN7 3AS, Saturday March 17, 12.30pm – 5.30pm

- Roade Village Hall, Bailey Brooks Lane, Roade NN7 2LS, Wednesday March 21, 1pm – 7pm

- South Northamptonshire Council Chamber, The Forum, Moat Lane, Towcester, NN12 6AD, Thursday March 22,1pm – 7pm

- Milton Malsor Village Hall, High Street, Milton Malsor, NN7 3AS, Friday March 23, 2pm – 8pm

- Blisworth Village Hall, 19 Stoke Road, Blisworth NN7 3DB, Saturday March 24, 10am – 4pm

Anyone wanting to participate in the consultation can submit feedback from March 15 via feedback forms at the public exhibitions, by emailing or online at the Rail Central website or by post. All feedback needs to be provided in writing by 23 April.

The phase one consultation led to a number of changes to the scheme.

These changes include a new underpass beneath the Northampton / Towcester Road (instead of a roundabout), restricting vehicle movements at the site’s junction with the Northampton / Towcester Road to emergency vehicles only (all vehicles wanting to access the site will do so from a dedicated new roundabout access off the A43), and proposing parkland and managed green space on the part of the site west of the A43 (closest to Blisworth Arm and the canal) instead of the leisure (ie hotel) and commercial development previously considered in this location.

At the phase two consultation, details for highways works will also be published including proposals for substantial changes at J15A of the M1. The scale of this proposed work is, according to Rail Central, a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) in its own right.

Details of all highways and junctions improvements will be explained following a rigorous and wide-ranging design process which benefitted from the new Northamptonshire County highways model.

This model, which shows current traffic patterns and anticipated future demand in years to come, formed a key part of the overall Rail Central highways design process.

Following the phase two consultation, all feedback will be reported in a consultation report which forms part of the submission documents when applying for a DCO.

The DCO application is expected to be submitted in mid-summer and will be made to the Planning Inspectorate (PINs), the Government body responsible for NSIP.

PINs may then accept the application for Examination leading to a recommendation being made to the Secretary of State who will ultimately make the decision.

If approved, the earliest anticipated start of construction on site would be late 2019 with the potential for the first business occupiers to move in during 2021.