Planning Inspectorate accepts rail hub plans

Freight containers

The Planning Inspectorate has accepted the application for the Hinckley National Rail Freight Interchange, despite serious concerns raised by Blaby District Council.

The application, from Tritax Symmetry, was initially submitted in February before being withdrawn for further work then resubmitted to the Planning Inspectorate on 17 March.

The Council submitted an Adequacy of Consultation Representation for both the first and second submissions. This commented on whether Tritax had complied with the relevant legislation and on its approach to the consultation process.

The Council raised major issues with the consultation, saying it had not been adequate. It said there were failures to provide accurate detail and mitigation on impacts on highways and the landscape, as well as the extra barrier downtime at Narborough Level Crossing in terms of its effects on both traffic congestion and air quality for residents.

However, the Planning Inspectorate decided to accept the application and will now begin assessing the plans, with the project moving into the pre-examination phase.

During the next few months stakeholders, including the public, will be asked for their views. A six-month-long examination phase will follow, starting in the latter half of this year.

While Blaby District Council will comment on the application it cannot make the final decision – the scheme is of such scale and national importance it will be determined by the Secretary of State for Transport.

The huge scheme, earmarked for 662 acres of land between the M69 and the Leicester to Birmingham railway line, falls mainly within the boundary of Blaby District Council, south-west of Elmesthorpe village.

The development would reach to the fringes of Burbage Common in Hinckley and Bosworth Borough if it is permitted - the size of it would swallow up Burbage Common three times over.

The design includes a railport able to deal with as many as 16 trains up to 775 m long per day, with areas for container storage and cranes for loading and unloading shipping containers from trains and lorries.

If approved, there will be up to 850,000sq m of warehouse and ancillary buildings, including the scope for some buildings to be directly rail connected if required. Also planned is a lorry park, a new A47 link road and south facing slip roads onto the M69.

Cat Hartley, Planning and Strategic Growth Group Manager at Blaby District Council, said: "We are disappointed the Planning Inspectorate have decided to accept this application in spite of our long-held and ongoing concerns. We will continue to scrutinise Tritax Symmetry’s proposals and present our views to the Planning Inspectorate as the application process continues."

13 April 2023