Aerial impression of the Northampton logistics park and rail freight terminal

Concerns for Northampton Gateway Rail Freight Interchange project

Segro northampton SRFI (Winvic) Winvic / SEGRO

A senior politician has expressed the grave concerns of her constituents over the future of the Northampton Gateway Rail Freight Interchange project. The yet-to-be-commissioned facility is planned to serve an area seventy miles northwest of London and a little over halfway to Birmingham. However, there are fears that the rail terminal part of the development will never be built, and the facility will become “another lorry park,” adding to already heavy road congestion.

Andrea Leadsom, the Member of Parliament for South Northamptonshire, has written an open letter to the Planning Inspectorate, the highest executive agency of the UK government responsible for development matters. She has expressed a response to the consultation for what has been called the ‘Non-Material Change’ to the Northampton Gateway Rail Freight Interchange Project.

Change to consent order

Constituents have been contacting Angela Leadsom over a proposed change to the Development Consent Order (DCO) for the terminal. They are concerned by the potential impact of the so-called ‘non-material change’ on the DCO. They fear that the rail terminal part of the development will be sidelined, but the logistics part will go ahead, with road access only. They are worried about the potential detriment to the local area.

Andrea Leadsom (Flickr – UK Gov)

The original planning order requirement stated that a rail terminal capable of handling at least four intermodal trains per day, including 775-metre length trains, must be constructed and available for use prior to the occupation of any of the warehousing. “The requirement for the rail terminal to be constructed and available for use was a specific condition to the consent for the development,” said Leadsom. She argues that the original terms were agreed upon by SEGRO, the British property investment and development company behind the original plan. “The approval explicitly prohibited any commercial activity until the rail connection was operational,” she says.

Doubted over any rail link

“At the time of the planning application for the Strategic Rail Freight Interchange [SRFI], I met with Network Rail in Parliament to ask directly whether a rail link would be forthcoming”, says Leadsom. “I was told that they doubted any link could be provided before HS2 was fully up and running.”

The implication is that the project could not be progressed in the agreed terms, and Leadsom says Network Rail has since confirmed that they did not agree to a rail link. The concern is that the logistics park will go ahead regardless. “My constituents and I are furious to see this cynical proposal for a fundamental change to the entire project being put forward as a ‘non-material’ issue”, she says.

Rail a lower priority

The developers are now seeking to amend the planning permission to allow the commercial development of the logistics park while not expecting any work on a rail connection to begin for at least a year. “While we do not expect any buildings to be operational until spring 2024 at the earliest”, said a statement from SEGRO, the developers.

“My constituents and I profoundly disagree that this should be defined as non-material and urge [the Planning Inspectorate] to require the developer to adhere to the original instruction as per the original DCO”, said Leadsom. “If the proposed changes go ahead, the site would become dependent on HGVs [heavy goods vehicles] for goods transport, making it likely that the use of a rail terminal would become a lower priority or even obsolete.”

**UK businesses can soon share their stories in a full-colour digital magazine tailored to the UK rail industry. The RailFreight UK Christmas Special will be published on 15 December. Details, including how to take part, can be found here.

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Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is RailFreight's UK correspondent.

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Concerns for Northampton Gateway Rail Freight Interchange project | RailFreight.com
Aerial impression of the Northampton logistics park and rail freight terminal

Concerns for Northampton Gateway Rail Freight Interchange project

Segro northampton SRFI (Winvic) Winvic / SEGRO

A senior politician has expressed the grave concerns of her constituents over the future of the Northampton Gateway Rail Freight Interchange project. The yet-to-be-commissioned facility is planned to serve an area seventy miles northwest of London and a little over halfway to Birmingham. However, there are fears that the rail terminal part of the development will never be built, and the facility will become “another lorry park,” adding to already heavy road congestion.

Andrea Leadsom, the Member of Parliament for South Northamptonshire, has written an open letter to the Planning Inspectorate, the highest executive agency of the UK government responsible for development matters. She has expressed a response to the consultation for what has been called the ‘Non-Material Change’ to the Northampton Gateway Rail Freight Interchange Project.

Change to consent order

Constituents have been contacting Angela Leadsom over a proposed change to the Development Consent Order (DCO) for the terminal. They are concerned by the potential impact of the so-called ‘non-material change’ on the DCO. They fear that the rail terminal part of the development will be sidelined, but the logistics part will go ahead, with road access only. They are worried about the potential detriment to the local area.

Andrea Leadsom (Flickr – UK Gov)

The original planning order requirement stated that a rail terminal capable of handling at least four intermodal trains per day, including 775-metre length trains, must be constructed and available for use prior to the occupation of any of the warehousing. “The requirement for the rail terminal to be constructed and available for use was a specific condition to the consent for the development,” said Leadsom. She argues that the original terms were agreed upon by SEGRO, the British property investment and development company behind the original plan. “The approval explicitly prohibited any commercial activity until the rail connection was operational,” she says.

Doubted over any rail link

“At the time of the planning application for the Strategic Rail Freight Interchange [SRFI], I met with Network Rail in Parliament to ask directly whether a rail link would be forthcoming”, says Leadsom. “I was told that they doubted any link could be provided before HS2 was fully up and running.”

The implication is that the project could not be progressed in the agreed terms, and Leadsom says Network Rail has since confirmed that they did not agree to a rail link. The concern is that the logistics park will go ahead regardless. “My constituents and I are furious to see this cynical proposal for a fundamental change to the entire project being put forward as a ‘non-material’ issue”, she says.

Rail a lower priority

The developers are now seeking to amend the planning permission to allow the commercial development of the logistics park while not expecting any work on a rail connection to begin for at least a year. “While we do not expect any buildings to be operational until spring 2024 at the earliest”, said a statement from SEGRO, the developers.

“My constituents and I profoundly disagree that this should be defined as non-material and urge [the Planning Inspectorate] to require the developer to adhere to the original instruction as per the original DCO”, said Leadsom. “If the proposed changes go ahead, the site would become dependent on HGVs [heavy goods vehicles] for goods transport, making it likely that the use of a rail terminal would become a lower priority or even obsolete.”

**UK businesses can soon share their stories in a full-colour digital magazine tailored to the UK rail industry. The RailFreight UK Christmas Special will be published on 15 December. Details, including how to take part, can be found here.

You just read one of our premium articles free of charge

Want full access? Take advantage of our exclusive offer

See the offer

Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is RailFreight's UK correspondent.

Add your comment

characters remaining.

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