Developer of proposed rail depot south of Northampton agrees purchase of farmland

The land bought by Roxhill is east of Stoke Bruerne near Ashton Road and Rectory Lane
The land bought by Roxhill is east of Stoke Bruerne near Ashton Road and Rectory Lane

The developer of a proposed rail depot on land south of Northampton has reached an agreement with the landowner to purchase a plot of farmland.

Roxhill's Northampton Gateway proposal could see a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) comprising large warehouses built on land east of the West Coast Main Line and next to junction 15 of the M1, between Collingtree and Roade.

Roxhill say they are close to an agreement with Highways England over the acquisition of woodland the other side of the footbridge over the M1 near Collingtree

Roxhill say they are close to an agreement with Highways England over the acquisition of woodland the other side of the footbridge over the M1 near Collingtree

The application is being examined and will be approved or rejected by the Government's Planning Inspectorate (PINS) rather than local authority because it is deemed a nationally significant infrastructure project.

At a compulsory acquisition hearing on December 20, representatives of the Northampton Gateway applicant Roxhill told the panel it had reached an agreement with the Irlam family over a parcel of land on the Stoke Plain Farm, near Stoke Bruerne.

"Agreements have been signed for that and we are waiting for them to complete," said Laura-Beth Hutton of Eversheds Sutherland, the firm representing Roxhill.

The panel also heard that discussions with Highways England were "progressing very well" in relation to acquiring the rights to a footbridge over the motorway near Collingtree.

Plots 1/7 and 1/12 are common to both the Rail Central and Northampton Gateway proposals

Plots 1/7 and 1/12 are common to both the Rail Central and Northampton Gateway proposals

Roxhill also hopes to acquire the area of woodland on the other side of the footbridge.

A separate application for an SRFI put forward by Ashfield Land is also being examined by PINS.

The Rail Central freight interchange proposes to build a number of warehouses on the land in between the West Coast Main Line and the Northampton Loop Line railways.

Its depots would occupy land between Milton Malsor, Blisworth and Roade.

Ashfield Land have objected to Roxhill's attempted acquisition of two plots of farmland next to the West Coast Main Line near Milton Malsor.

The two land parcels - known as plots 1/7 and 1/15 - are common to both rail freight applications.

Hereward Phillpott QC, representing Ashfield Land, told the panel at the December 20 hearing: “The central concern that underlines our position on those two plots is to ensure that the exercise of the compulsory acquisition powers doesn’t prevent the Rail Central project being developed in an acceptable manner.

"And if at the end of the examination, the examining authority and the secretary of state are satisfied that that is the position, then those concerns will have been addressed.

“We have deliberately designed our application in order to enable it to accommodate the physical loss of those areas of land but those areas of land are nevertheless important for our scheme because they are the location of an area of interaction between the two schemes.”

The next compulsory acquisition hearing is on March 13.