Northampton Gateway Rail Freight Interchange

The views expressed in this page do not represent those of the Planning Inspectorate. This page consists of content submitted to the Planning Inspectorate by the public and other interested parties, giving their views of this proposal.

Northampton Gateway Rail Freight Interchange

Received 06 July 2018
From Dr Andrew Gough

Representation

I do not consider that Northampton Gateway is well-placed to contribute to the success of the next phase of SRFI development.
Northampton Gateway is located on a constrained rail corridor, whose priority is, and always will be, to prioritise passenger capacity to serve the commuter markets to and from London.
Planned investment in the Strategic Rail Network targets the major freight flows from Felixstowe and Southampton to the West Midlands, effectively bypassing Northampton Gateway to the West and North. Only when paths are released by HS2 would there be any real prospect of significant modal shift; the mere prospect of future capacity should not be used as justification for consent.
Alternative sites exist that are better able to take advantage of investments made in other infrastructure schemes, such as the development of port-centric logistics and specific investments in increasing rail freight capacity. In the East Midlands, Hinckley National Freight Interchange is a far superior site to either Northampton Gateway or Rail Central.
The proposed scale of the development is in excess of that needed in Northamptonshire, according to Network Rail’s own forecasts. Market demand for Northampton Gateway is primarily driven by a shortage of high-quality, large-footprint buildings, not by any proven desire to enact modal shift.
The site of Northampton Gateway was previously assessed and discounted by Prologis during their successful application to expand the Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal (DIRFT III).
In my opinion, Prologis’ assessment that the Northampton Loop could only support a sub-regional facility remains extant. Furthermore, Prologis’ assessment that the Highgate facility could “work with” DIRFT III is also correct.
Northampton Gateway should be seen for what it is: a sub-regional facility whose primary purpose is to defend Northampton’s position as a logistics centre against emerging competition from Milton Keynes and Leicestershire.
Northampton Gateway would not adequately fulfil a national strategic role, but a local one.
The historic take-up of space at DIRFT is less than 50,000m2 per annum. Unless a major change in buyer behaviour can be proven, DIRFT III will provide capacity for over 15 years.
A combination of the already-consented capacity at East Midlands Gateway, DIRFT III and the proposed Hinckley National Rail Freight Interchange would be sufficient to meet both market needs and national policy objectives in the medium term.
Granting development consent to Northampton Gateway would risk the environmental success of DIRFT by creating a situation whereby both sites competed for the same trains.
Priority should be given to filling gaps in the national network of SRFIs, through schemes that provide new routes to the deep-water ports from locations North of the A14 / M6 corridor, such as Hinckley NRFI and West Midlands Interchange.
I am not convinced that the case has been made for a SRFI development of national importance, in this location, at this time.