Government grants DCO for Northants rail freight interchange

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has given the go-ahead for a strategic rail freight interchange near Northampton after dismissing concerns over traffic and landscape impacts.

Visualisation of Northamptonshire Gateway rail freight scheme. Image by Roxhill Developments
Visualisation of Northamptonshire Gateway rail freight scheme. Image by Roxhill Developments

The Northampton Gateway scheme by developer Roxhill Developments proposes a new terminal, warehousing and parking for heavy goods vehicles on a 290 hectare site next to junction 15 of the M1 motorway near the village of Wooton.

The application also includes up to 557,000 square metres of warehousing and ancillary buildings, a new access road and associated works to the A508, a new bypass to the village of Roade, and improvements to junction 15 of the M1.

Shapps granted a development consent order (DCO) for the facility under the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) planning regime.

The decision follows the recommendation of a panel of inspectors which completed an examination into the project in April.

Shapps noted concerns raised over the impact of vehicles using the new facility, but concluded that the application's proposed improvement works to the motorway junction would alleviate any issues.

He noted that the West Northamptonshire joint core strategy encourages a shift away from motor vehicles but said a travel strategy would provide reasonable alternatives for commuters to the site.

He also agreed with the panel’s view that strategic rail freight interchanges "can only realistically be located adjacent to railway lines and the road network".

In addition, he said that screening and landscaping would help mitigate adverse impacts from road infrastructure and said he did "not consider the landscape and visual impacts a ground for refusal".

Shapps decided that the presence of an existing rail freight interchange at nearby Daventry did not undermine the case for granting permission.

In addition, he agreed with the panel that unbuilt proposals for another rail freight terminal at Hinkley in Leicestershire should not be taken into consideration in the decision.

The application for the project was submitted in May 2018. Planning Inspectorate (PINS) chief executive, Sarah Richards said the application was determined by PINS "within timescales laid down in the Planning Act 2008 which provides developers and investors with the confidence to build and improve the infrastructure this country needs".

A separate application for a DCO for a strategic rail freight interchange (SRFI) at another site in Northamptonshire was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) in September last year.

Earlier this month, plans for a 1,750-home urban extension to Northampton were given the go-ahead by two councils, despite the scheme providing an affordable housing level lower than local policy requirements.

A feature examining the challenges in gaining consent for rail freight interchanges can be found here.


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