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Planning Inspectorate rejects ‘insufficiently clear’ Northampton freight rail hub

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Plans for a massive strategic rail freight interchange in Northampton have been rejected by the government’s Planning Inspectorate for being “insufficiently clear”.

The planning application for a 101ha freight hub, submitted by Ashfield Land Management and Gazeley, was rejected in a letter issued on behalf of the secretary of state for the ministry of housing, communities and local government for being inconsistent.

“The inconsistencies between certain documents and plans, conflicting internal references between and within documents and some inconsistencies between the hard and electronic copy submitted make the application insufficiently clear,” the letter said.

“Should the applicant choose to re-submit, they are advised to ensure that all documents are submitted both electronically and in hard copy, that they are identical, and that the correct information is included in the appendices for each relevant document,” it adds.

Further documents related to the rejected application will be published this week. 

The proposal had been to build a new 101ha next-generation Strategic Rail Freight Interchange, according to Ashfield Land Management and Gazeley.

The site would have been expected to be capable of handling traditional container freight and the emerging demand for “fast freight” linked to the growth of e-commerce and customer expectations for rapid and next day delivery.

To the east of the site would have been the Northampton Loop Line and the West Coast Main Line on the southern boundary. The A43 would have been on the site’s western boundary while the M1 motorway would have been 1km north.

In addition to the key rail infrastructure, the plans entailed up to 69ha of rail-connected and rail-served logistics and commercial buildings plus a new grade separated roundabout junction with the A43 and key improvements to J15A of the M1.

Proposals also included a traditional container handling ‘‘inter modal’’ terminal connecting with the Northampton Loop Line and an ‘‘express terminal’’ connecting directly with the West Coast Main Line.

Furthermore, the new facility was set to be able to handle at least four up to 775m long trains per day.

Plans included a prospective start date for construction in late 2019. 

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