Northamptonshire rail depot developer used 'out of date' traffic data and made 'ridiculous' simulation, residents say

Members of the public were speaking before a two-man Planning Inspectorate panel
Members of the public were speaking before a two-man Planning Inspectorate panel

Two Northamptonshire residents of villages affected by proposals to build two large rail depots in the countryside have criticised the developer's use of "out of date" traffic figures and a "ridiculous" video simulation.

An open hearing was held in Collingtree on Wednesday that allowed members of the public to submit their views on Roxhill's Northampton Gateway project, which was submitted to the Government's Planning Inspectorate (PINS) earlier this year.

The hearing was part of a two-day schedule of public meetings chaired by the two-man PINS panel of Philip Asquith and David Brock.

Dr John Davis, a Collingtree Park resident and Formula 1 engineer, said a video on proposed changes to junction 15 made by Roxhill and shown at a public exhibition of the plans did not stand up to scrutiny.

"The simulation shown was ridiculous in its naivety and its content,” said Dr Lewis.

"It showed several vehicles in a line at the traffic lights moving away together, hence saying that a lot of traffic can get going.

"In truth, people move away one after the other.

"If that simulation is anything they’re trying to rely on, it several times showed multiple vehicles at the same point on the road, hence a crash.

"So the whole mathematics used on that cannot be used with any confidence to simulate the additional traffic that would pass through."

Other speakers at the public hearing expressed their concerns over the already poor air quality in the area and how that would worsen if the Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges (SRFIs) were approved.

There are currently two SRFI applications submitted to PINS - Roxhill's Northampton Gateway and Ashfield Land's Rail Central.

If both get the green light much of the land in between Milton Malsor, Brixworth, Roade and Collingtree would be occupied by huge warehouses.

Because they are considered of national interest, PINS and the Secretary of State, James Brokenshire, will make the decision on whether they are built.

Abthorpe resident Andrew Gough also criticised the Roxhill's application saying the developer had used out of date traffic data for its modelling because it hadn't considered the University of Northampton's move to the Waterside campus off the A428.

"One of the largest generators of traffic is Northampton’s university," said Mr Gough.

"The morning congestion that was associated with the campuses to the north of Northampton has therefore moved much closer to the applicant’s development.

"The baseline data that was available to their consultants to undertake the traffic modelling is therefore fundamentally out of date.

"Thirteen thousand students and associated staff are based at Northampton, which is one of the largest employers in the area and my concern is that their traffic modelling, particularly for the impact on the A45, will have to be revisited in light of new data."