Roof of a modern logistics park warehouse with the Tritax logo prominent

English freight terminal at Hinckley a step towards approval

Roof of a modern logistics park warehouse with the Tritax logo prominent Image Tritax Symmetry media source

Proposals to build a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange at Hinckley, near Leicester, continue to be met with considerable opposition. Locals who fear the impact of increased road traffic on the area, as well as the loss of local countryside and wildlife habitat, ironically for a plan that includes a rail freight part, capable of handling sixteen trains daily.

There is no argument that Britain would benefit from much more rail connected logistics capacity. There is however plenty of argument over just where any of those big warehouse parks might be built. Nobody is in a hurry to offer up their back yard, and that’s the case in the English east midlands.

Tritax Symmetry (Hinckley) Ltd, a company formed by the parent developers specifically to promote the project, has been deep in consultation with the local community and deep in the lengthy British planning approval process. In addition to railway sidings and a freight terminal, there are proposals for extensive road upgrade works, and landscaping and planting works, ecological mitigation, drainage balancing ponds, footpaths, and cycleway links. There’s also the incidental matter of around seven million square feet (over 6000 square metres) of warehousing at around ten metres in height.

Logistics “golden triangle”

Proponents argue that Britain needs more rail connected warehousing, and that the proposed Hinckley National Rail Freight Interchange (HNRFI) will be a critical part of that provision. The proposal sits within the British logistics “golden triangle” and, for that and other reasons, the proposal has been designated by the UK government as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP). That designation does help smooth the way for the proposals, but it doesn’t necessarily rubber-stamp approval.

CGI of the planned terminal at Hinckley with a locator map in the bottom left corner
Hinckley CGI and map (Tritax Symmetry image)

Public consultation on the proposals received almost three thousand responses from members of the public and representative bodies, including the local authorities, who have not given their unswerving approval. While a full response on how Tritax has responded to any issues raised in the consultation will be set out in the consultation report that is submitted with the application, the main areas of concern raised by the public related to traffic impacts and generation of the development, public transport availability for employees locally, and the routing of road traffic generated by operations.

Planning acceptance marks important milestone

However, the project has cleared a significant hurdle, in that the proposals are now on the desk of the government’s Planning Inspectorate, which means the application has been formally accepted into a pre-examination phase. “The acceptance of the application for Hinckley National Rail Freight Interchange marks an important milestone in delivering significant investment in low carbon buildings and infrastructure for Leicestershire”, said Sinead Turnbull, planning director for Tritax Symmetry, in an interview given to local newspapers. “The acceptance of the application for Hinckley National Rail Freight Interchange marks an important milestone in delivering significant investment in low carbon buildings and infrastructure for Leicestershire. The unique location, with excellent strategic connections, will mean it is one of the most important rail freight and infrastructure projects for the region’s connectivity. It will generate new apprenticeships and skills for the region in a fast-growing and future-facing logistics industry – one that is the lifeblood of the economy and vital to our country’s growth.”

Overhead view of Tritax logistics park at Doncaster
Tritax has already put several logistics parks in place, including this facility at Doncaster, currently under further development

Many local interests remain deeply unconvinced. Comments have been expressed over ecological and environmental impacts. Tritax respond by saying they will creating a new fifty acre green park, new habitats for wildlife, and a network of paths and bridleways. Some references have been made to perceived government desire to approve the project come what may. In fact, planning approval procedures (of which there are a further three stages) mean that the likelihood of any physical development is still at least a year away and, if past performance is any indication, it could be much longer than that.

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Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is RailFreight's UK correspondent.

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English freight terminal at Hinckley a step towards approval | RailFreight.com
Roof of a modern logistics park warehouse with the Tritax logo prominent

English freight terminal at Hinckley a step towards approval

Roof of a modern logistics park warehouse with the Tritax logo prominent Image Tritax Symmetry media source

Proposals to build a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange at Hinckley, near Leicester, continue to be met with considerable opposition. Locals who fear the impact of increased road traffic on the area, as well as the loss of local countryside and wildlife habitat, ironically for a plan that includes a rail freight part, capable of handling sixteen trains daily.

There is no argument that Britain would benefit from much more rail connected logistics capacity. There is however plenty of argument over just where any of those big warehouse parks might be built. Nobody is in a hurry to offer up their back yard, and that’s the case in the English east midlands.

Tritax Symmetry (Hinckley) Ltd, a company formed by the parent developers specifically to promote the project, has been deep in consultation with the local community and deep in the lengthy British planning approval process. In addition to railway sidings and a freight terminal, there are proposals for extensive road upgrade works, and landscaping and planting works, ecological mitigation, drainage balancing ponds, footpaths, and cycleway links. There’s also the incidental matter of around seven million square feet (over 6000 square metres) of warehousing at around ten metres in height.

Logistics “golden triangle”

Proponents argue that Britain needs more rail connected warehousing, and that the proposed Hinckley National Rail Freight Interchange (HNRFI) will be a critical part of that provision. The proposal sits within the British logistics “golden triangle” and, for that and other reasons, the proposal has been designated by the UK government as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP). That designation does help smooth the way for the proposals, but it doesn’t necessarily rubber-stamp approval.

CGI of the planned terminal at Hinckley with a locator map in the bottom left corner
Hinckley CGI and map (Tritax Symmetry image)

Public consultation on the proposals received almost three thousand responses from members of the public and representative bodies, including the local authorities, who have not given their unswerving approval. While a full response on how Tritax has responded to any issues raised in the consultation will be set out in the consultation report that is submitted with the application, the main areas of concern raised by the public related to traffic impacts and generation of the development, public transport availability for employees locally, and the routing of road traffic generated by operations.

Planning acceptance marks important milestone

However, the project has cleared a significant hurdle, in that the proposals are now on the desk of the government’s Planning Inspectorate, which means the application has been formally accepted into a pre-examination phase. “The acceptance of the application for Hinckley National Rail Freight Interchange marks an important milestone in delivering significant investment in low carbon buildings and infrastructure for Leicestershire”, said Sinead Turnbull, planning director for Tritax Symmetry, in an interview given to local newspapers. “The acceptance of the application for Hinckley National Rail Freight Interchange marks an important milestone in delivering significant investment in low carbon buildings and infrastructure for Leicestershire. The unique location, with excellent strategic connections, will mean it is one of the most important rail freight and infrastructure projects for the region’s connectivity. It will generate new apprenticeships and skills for the region in a fast-growing and future-facing logistics industry – one that is the lifeblood of the economy and vital to our country’s growth.”

Overhead view of Tritax logistics park at Doncaster
Tritax has already put several logistics parks in place, including this facility at Doncaster, currently under further development

Many local interests remain deeply unconvinced. Comments have been expressed over ecological and environmental impacts. Tritax respond by saying they will creating a new fifty acre green park, new habitats for wildlife, and a network of paths and bridleways. Some references have been made to perceived government desire to approve the project come what may. In fact, planning approval procedures (of which there are a further three stages) mean that the likelihood of any physical development is still at least a year away and, if past performance is any indication, it could be much longer than that.

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Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is RailFreight's UK correspondent.

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