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 14 July 2018
From Andrew Gough

Representation

The developer has failed to conduct a proper Assessment of Alternative Sites, presenting instead a simple choice between Northampton Gateway and Rail Central. This is a significant non-compliance with planning legislation and disregards the principal aim of NPSNN to establish a “network across the regions”.
The developer has made fundamental errors in the socio-economic chapter, basing their calculations on total population rather than on working population. This has overstated the benefit to South Northamptonshire, whilst simultaneously under-representing commuting from outside of the study area. This implies a significant non-compliance with NPSNN requirements for availability of labour.
No Statement of Common Ground has been agreed with Network Rail. The application is premature, since the design has reached only GRIP Stage 2.
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 as it cannot be guaranteed.
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.
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 proposed site was dismissed by Prologis during the discussion of alternatives for DIRFT III in 2013. In my opinion, Prologis’ assessment that the Northampton Loop could only support a sub-regional facility remains extant. Furthermore, Prologis’ assessment that Northampton Gateway could “work with” DIRFT III is also correct. We are effectively being asked to approve “DIRFT IV”, without a proper assessment of the national network context and justification.
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.
Granting development consent to Northampton Gateway would risk the environmental success of DIRFT by creating a situation whereby both sites competed for the same train paths.
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 Northampton Gateway has made the case for a SRFI development of national importance, in this location, at this time.