Fight to stop rail depots in Northamptonshire has put a lifetime's worth of stress on residents, campaigner tells Government panel

Mark Redding was speaking at a Planning Inspectorate open hearing on Wednesday
Mark Redding was speaking at a Planning Inspectorate open hearing on Wednesday

A Government panel was told first-hand how a three-year fight to stop developers building two rail depots in the Northamptonshire countryside has put a lifetime's worth of stress on campaigners.

Mark Redding, a campaigner for Stop Rail Central, was speaking at an open hearing last night where other residents and interested parties shared their views on the development to the Government's Planning Inspectorate (PINS) panel.

If both the Rail Central and Northampton Gateway projects are given the go-ahead much of the countryside between Milton Malsor, Blisworth, Collingtree and Roade would be occupied by the rail depots

If both the Rail Central and Northampton Gateway projects are given the go-ahead much of the countryside between Milton Malsor, Blisworth, Collingtree and Roade would be occupied by the rail depots

The hearing was part of a two-day schedule of public meetings held after Roxhill submitted their Northampton Gateway to PINS, who will ultimately make the final decision on the rail depot.

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"We are a small, rural community unanimously opposed to having the largest warehouse park in Europe being thrust upon us, and have spent the last three years building credible opposition to these unwanted developments," Mr Redding told the two-man PINS panel of Philip Asquith and David Brock.

"In facts, some members of the community have been involved in attempting to prevent unwanted industrial incursion for many years prior to this."

Rod Sellers

Rod Sellers

Mr Redding added: "Having experienced this first hand for three years now I don’t believe that anyone fighting for the side of the rural community should have to experience the stresses and personal impositions of something of this magnitude more than once in their lifetime, certainly not twice and definitely not twice at the same time."

Earlier in his submissions, Mr Redding stressed there was not enough research on whether the rail network could handle the extra trains the Northampton Gateway and Rail Central developments would cause.

The network's overcapacity was raised by Northampton Borough Councillor Luke Graystone last month.

"I would like to pick up on Ms Thompson’s understanding of SRFIs (Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges) yesterday [Tuesday] when she quoted they are built on the premise of ‘build it and they will come’ in relation to the potential take-up of rail," Mr Redding told the panel.

"I would contend that a more apt quote would be ‘build it and they might come’ with the corollary ‘build them in the wrong place or all next to each other and it is highly likely that they won’t’."

If both or either of the Rail Central and Northampton Gateway projects are given the go-ahead by PINS much of the Northamptonshire countryside between Milton Malsor, Blisworth, Collingtree and Roade would be occupied by rail depots and warehouses.

"The overall view of the local community is ‘enough is enough’!” said Rod Sellers, who was speaking to the panel on behalf of Parishes Against Pollution.

"As a group of 29 parishes we simply say this: it conflicts with the planning policy, it’s very close to DIRFT, it’s vulnerable to yet further environmental impacts and is in an area already under pressure from other developments.

"We respectfully urge these self-evident factors are kept in mind while the examination process continues."