Council set to 'beef up' objections over Northampton rail freight interchange proposals

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A council is set to ‘beef up’ its objections to a proposed rail freight interchange near the M1 in Northampton.

South Northamptonshire Council has until Tuesday to submit its views to the Planning Inspectorate on the Northampton Gateway Rail Freight Interchange.

The project proposes a new strategic distribution site adjacent to Junction 15 of the M1 in Northamptonshire with new warehousing and a new rail freight terminal.

It neighbours land where a similar proposal, called Rail Central, has also been earmarked.

If one, or both, are approved then a significant amount of countryside in the South Northamptonshire district would be lost.

Members of South Northamptonshire Council’s planning committee were told yesterday (November 1) that the authority had until November 6 to submit their views as well as a local impact report.

But members felt the local impact report suggested that the authority preferred the Northampton Gateway proposal to the Rail Central development, when in reality it wanted neither.

Councillor Phil Bignell said: “I think we should be objecting to both strongly. It seems to be very biased towards saying that this is better than the other one, but I don’t think we should want either of them.”

Also speaking out was Councillor Karen Cooper, who as well as sitting on the planning committee represents the Milton Malsor area which would neighbour the terminal.

She said: “Milton Malsor will be a village that will be greatly impacted should this go ahead. The village and parish councils and lots of the residents have also worked providing all the information of all the impacts on their village, as well as their worries about traffic.

“I really must stand up on behalf of the residents in my ward. This is not robust enough and we can’t say that one is better than the other, they are both equally dreadful and surround the village.”

The Northampton Gateway proposals, submitted by Roxhill (Junction 15) Limited, feature a freight terminal connecting to the WCML Northampton Loop railway, and an area with the capacity to unload and load freight trains of up to 775m in length. There would also be a a heavy goods vehicle parking facility with internal site access roads to connect to the strategic road network, and up to five million square feet of warehousing.

Council papers say: “The proposed development will rely fundamentally upon the delivery of the A508 Roade Bypass. It is predicted that this in combination with the added capacity at J15 of the M1 and the removal of constraints on the A508 to the south of the site will result in the re-assignment of traffic, both associated with the proposed development and general traffic, onto the A508 rather than to minor roads.”

The council can only share its views on the proposals, as due to it being considered a development of ‘national importance’ the final decision will fall with the planning inspectorate.

Councillor Martin Johns added: “I think this would adversely affect us, and we are not being robust enough in pointing out those affects. Once you start to drag the quality of life down in South Northamptonshire, then it becomes a downward spiral. A lot of people are very, very concerned about this.”

The planning committee eventually decided that authority should amend the cover report and the local impact report to incorporate the comments raised by the committee.

It will then have to be endorsed by council leader Ian McCord, the portfolio holder for planning Cllr Roger Clarke, chairman of the planning committee Cllr Fiona Baker, deputy leader Cllr Bignell and ward member Cllr Cooper.