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Rail Central withdraws application to enable additional work on highways ahead of re-submission

Rail Central has withdrawn its application for a proposed new Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) where the West Coast Main Line and Northampton Loop Line intersect, adjacent to the A43 and within 2 miles of Junction 15A of the M1.

The proposals – by Ashfield Land and Gazeley – were submitted in late 2018 and accepted by the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) for examination. They are recognised as Nationally Significant Infrastructure and would deliver a next-generation SRFI capable of handling both traditional container freight and the emerging demand for ‘fast freight’. The scheme could create 8,000 new jobs.

Following acceptance of the application by PINS, Rail Central recognised the potential to improve its proposed package of highways enhancements and, in dialogue with PINS, sought a deferral to the start of the PINS examination process for this highways work to be completed.

Subsequent to correspondence between Rail Central and PINS on the deferral and revised timetable, PINS wrote to Rail Central (9 October 2019) expressing its view that ‘the application should be withdrawn and a new application incorporating the changes should be submitted’.

Today (23 October 2019), Ashfield Land and Gazeley have written to PINS to acknowledge this request and to withdraw the application.

Ashfield Land and Gazeley will now continue to progress their work on the highways mitigation package for the project and intend to submit a revised application to PINS at the earliest opportunity, following completion of the highways work, public consultation and finalisation of the application material.

The decision by the Secretary of State (9 October) to grant a Development Consent Order for the Northampton Gateway SRFI application which is adjacent to the Rail Central site (across the West Coast Main Line) recognises the suitability of this location for SRFI development. It endorses the principles which underpin the Rail Central proposals in line with the Government’s National Policy Statement which supports the development of a network of Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges (SRFI) across the UK.

Ashfield Land and Gazeley’s position has always been that, subject to the relevant planning decisions, there is no reason why Rail Central and Northampton Gateway cannot both be brought forward in this location. In addition, Rail Central has distinctive operational benefits, not least in its ability to service traditional container freight and the fast freight markets because of Rail Central’s direct connections into both the Northampton Loop Line and the West Coast Main Line.

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