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 10 July 2018
From Chris Dancer

Representation

The proposals are contrary to all Local Authority Plans and, specifically, the adopted West Northamptonshire Joint Core Strategy.

The proposals are in conflict with the commercial, transport and housing objectives of the whole region and further development of this type and scale will result in a complete imbalance of planning objectives.

This is not a site of strategic importance. The developer is simply promoting it as such because they control it. In reality, it is a speculative ‘big shed’ scheme in an area that already has an ample supply of consented industrial land.

Given the relatively short distances involved, the required transport modal shift will not occur and, in any event, there is no requirement for Strategic Rail Freight Terminals to actually accept any freight by rail. Furthermore, the rail network does not have capacity and the proposals are not supported by the rail operating authorities.

With DIRFT in the very near vicinity and with significant future capacity, these proposals do not exhibit any form of ‘strategic’ decision-making.

The local trunk road network is already too congested to accommodate the vehicle movements that would be imposed by these proposals and cannot be improved sufficiently to mitigate the impact. The scheme would also put an untenable strain on all the surrounding village access roads.

In what is a rural, open countryside area, the direct and immediate impact on all local villages and their communities will be both huge and permanent. No amount of mitigation will change this.

The scale of the proposals, coupled with the area topography, would create a significant visual impact over a large swathe of South Northamptonshire.

The operational activities created by these proposals will produce significant increases in air, light and noise pollution.

A vast area of prime agricultural land will be irrecoverably destroyed by these proposals, along with a number of rare habitats and the animal and plant species that currently thrive there.

There is now significant evidence, across the UK, highlighting the collapse of high street retailing leading to a reduction in retail employment and service industry careers. Contrary to the claim that these proposals will create jobs, in reality, the demand for ‘big shed’ space is to support online retailing, effectively wiping out jobs. In reality net ‘job creation’ is an illusion - for every low skilled, low paid ‘big shed’ job created, higher skilled retail service industry jobs are being lost.

This area of Northamptonshire has extremely strong employment statistics (there is currently a shortage of warehouse workers in Northamptonshire). Any actual new workers would therefore either be forced to commute or move locally causing further strain on the very limited local housing stock and local services.

The rateable value paid by large industrial warehouse units is lower than that paid by retail units, therefore effectively subsidising online retailers whilst squeezing traditional town centre retailers. As online retailing grows, causing further deterioration of retailing in Northampton town centre, business rates return received by the Local Authority will fall.

The suggested ‘green’ benefits of online retailing need further investigation. Evidence is growing to suggest that van deliveries to individual homes, with no cost, easy returns policies, generate higher total carbon footprints than traditional personal, single-trip, multiple store shopping.