Go-ahead for Buxton rail freight scheme as housing concerns answered

The transport secretary has approved plans for the extension of rail freight sidings at Buxton in Derbyshire after concluding that the scheme would not hamper the delivery of local housing targets.

Buxton: sidings extension approved (pic: Benjamin Hopkins via Geograph)
Buxton: sidings extension approved (pic: Benjamin Hopkins via Geograph)

Network Rail had sought a transport and works act order and deemed planning consent to construct, maintain and operate an extension to the existing railway sidings in the Hogshaw area of Buxton, together with associated works.

According to a decision letter sent on behalf of the transport secretary Chris Grayling this week, Network Rail had argued that the development was necessary to increase the length of freight trains that use the sidings to serve the Peak District quarries at Dowlow and Hindlow.

The scheme would facilitate an increase in the capacity of freight trains from 1,750 tonnes to 2,600 tonnes, which, it argued, "would contribute to the long term economic viability of those quarries and help to limit the amount of future quarry traffic using the local road network".

However, the letter said that concerns had been flagged that the site of the scheme "had previously been designated for housing in the High Peak Local Plan, and its use instead for the scheme would add to pressure to find land for housing elsewhere, possibly in an unsuitable location, in order to meet housing targets".

But it added that Network Rail had pointed out that an amendment to the local plan to incorporate sidings extension had been included in the draft plan’s examination phase in 2015, "and was found by the inspector conducting that examination to be an acceptable revision".

Network Rail also stated that the scheme "would not prejudice the future delivery of housing to the east of the site".

The letter said that the secretary of state noted that the local planning authority High Peaks Borough Council had "expressed support for the principle of the scheme but initially lodged a holding objection referring … to concern about the consistency of the scheme with the local plan and housing land".

However, the decision letter added that, following further discussions with Network Rail, High Peaks Borough Council confirmed that they had agreed to liaise with Network Rail "outside the statutory process to consider the implications of the implementation of the scheme for future delivery of housing and have confirmed that they do not wish to maintain their holding objection".

Granting the relevant approvals, the letter said that the secretary of state "has no reason to consider that delivery of the scheme will materially impact delivery of planned housing and is satisfied that the scheme is consistent with the local plan".

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