Residents continue to contact me daily with their concerns about the two proposed Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges, Northampton Gateway and Rail Central.
I am very aware of the near uniform opposition across all affected communities. The two action groups, Stop Roxhill and Stop Rail Central, are doing an excellent job in providing updates, coordinating meetings, and getting to grips with the policy guidance to inform their planning application responses.
I have been clear throughout that, for my part, I will do all I can to reflect and support the position that my constituents have taken on this issue, which is their clear opposition. There are genuine concerns about the strategic location of the two sites given the proliferation of existing SRFIs across the East Midlands, new development on open greenfield sites, questions about the capacities of both the local road network and the West Coast Main Line to handle additional traffic, environmental issues like air and noise pollution and well as visual blight, and many other points including people being forced out of their homes.
You can read my previous updates in the dedicated SRFI section of my website, as well as my responses to all the various consultations so far and copies of relevant correspondence.
Roxhill concluded their further round of public consultations for the Northampton Gateway development on the 2nd February, and are currently analysing the responses. Although no specific date has been given for the submission of their planning application to the Planning Inspectorate, PINS, it is anticipated that this could be imminent and certainly within the coming weeks. Submission to PINS will start the formal process of considering the application in detail, and will allow residents and people like me the opportunity to raise objections and concerns in the proper setting. There will also be public hearings to afford the opportunity to put these issues forward in person.
I have uploaded copies of my letter of the 13th November to Roxhill's Managing Director, Graham Pardoe, about capacity and feasibility, as well as their briefing note in response. I subsequently wrote back to Roxhill on the 22nd November with a series of questions, and they responded formally with a full update.
Ashfield Land, as you will know, have recently been a little further behind Roxhill in developing their proposals for their Rail Central site, despite having been the first one out of the proverbial starting gates. Following their initial public consultation back at the end of 2016, Ashfield Land have informed me that they will be formally announcing the dates next week for the statutory pre-application consultation which they will be holding across March and April. This will also include dates for a series of public exhibitions which I understand will take place between Thursday 15th March and Saturday 24th March in Blisworth, Milton Malsor, Roade and Towcester. Ashfield Land anticipates that, following this round of consultations, they will be preparing to submit to PINS this summer.
You may be interested in reading this letter I received in November last year from James Digby, Director at Ashfield Land, which updated their position on their statutory consultation process. This was in response to letters I sent on the 13th November and the 18th November.
I have been informed by Ashfield Land this morning that they have formed a partnership with Gazeley, the European division of global logistics company GLP, to take the scheme into construction and operation subject to planning consent. I attach a copy of their briefing note so you can read more for yourselves.
We await the submission of Roxhill's proposals to PINS and the start of Ashfield Land's statutory consultation. I continue to do everything possible to ensure residents' concerns and views and being heard, and I will be putting them to the Planning Inspectorate when consideration of the proposals begins. I am extremely grateful to the hundreds of residents who have contacted me about the two proposals and, of course, to the action groups for the all of the work that they are doing on behalf of their communities.
I will update again in due course, but please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.