Stop Roxhill

The developer, Roxhill, has proposed building 5 million square feet

 of warehousing on 457 acres of arable farmland close to Junction

 15 of the M1 and the surrounding communities of Roade, Milton

 Malsor, Grange Park and Collingtree.

This is in addition to the separate proposal from Ashfield Land (Rail Central) for 8 million

 sq ft of warehousing on an adjoining site.


Click on thumbnails to enlarge.

There are many reasons to challenge this proposal:

PLANNING

 The recently adopted Strategic Plan for the region, specifically excluded industrial development at this location. A previous application by Roxhill for a 2.67m sq ft Distribution Centre was withdrawn after widespread opposition and its likely refusal. These

LOCAL DEMOCRACY

Roxhill argue that a limited rail link to the Northampton Loop line makes this proposal of 'national significance' and therefore can be decided by central government rather than by locally accountable planning authorities.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

Residential areas surrounding the proposed site  are already exposed to high levels of air, noise and light pollution that are above legal limits. This has always been somewhat mitigated by the largely open countryside close by. Roxhill's proposal will destroy this 'green lung' as well as the wildlife habitat it provides. (see video clip on 'background' page)

TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT

The existing traffic congestion on the M1, A45 and A508, is self evident and increases 'rat running' through residential roads. The number of (diesel) HGV's needed to service 5 million sq ft of warehousing will be enormous. Roxhill claim that 6,000 people will work at the site. If this proves correct the workforce would be drawn from a wide area and are likely to travel by car. Roxhill have promised to fund improvements to Junction 15 but the changes proposed in their earlier (and smaller) planning application, were judged by planners as unlikely to add to overall capacity.

RAIL FREIGHT STRATEGY

Industry experts say that a Rail Interchange is not needed in this location because the DIRFT facility is only 18 miles further north and has expansion capacity for the next 20 years. The likely occupiers would be non rail freight warehouse operators moving to be nearer to the M1. This would negate government objectives but the policies governing Rail Freight Interchanges do not prevent this.


THE BIG QUESTION ...

Is this scheme really of such 'national significance' that it is worth wiping out  out hundreds of acres of productive farmland and wildlife habitat  and creating yet more traffic congestion and pollution on an already overstretched road network
?


To comment on this site contact: rod.sellers@sky.com



Latest -  The Mask Slips!



The failure of the government to provide clarity on its policy aim of moving freight from road to rail was laid bare at a packed meeting at Roade Village Hall.

The meeting on 21st April was intended as the annual public meeting for the parish but the presence of Andrea Leadsom MP and warehouse developers Roxhill and Ashfield Land resulted in a lively evening. An audience of over 250 residents from around the proposed sites packed the hall with many outside the open windows straining to hear the developers claims and the counter arguments from concerned and knowledgeable speakers from the floor.

As well as all the environmental issues that arise from building 13million sq ft of warehouses on over 1100 acres of farmland, it became clear that there is little genuine ‘Strategic’ benefit in terms of rail freight planning and the proposed schemes do not have the ‘national significance’ to  justify bypassing the normal planning system.

Although government policy has set out its wish to encourage Rail Freight Interchanges (RFI) at a balanced network of locations, it has given no guidance as to where these should be.

This has opened the door to speculative developers like Ashfield Land and Roxhill to claim that their warehouse parks meet the government’s criteria using the mask of having a substantial rail freight handling connection.


Speakers from the floor made the following powerful points:

  •         Experience shows that rail freight is not cost effective in the UK due to the relatively short distances involved. Operators have failed make a profit and the inability of DIRFT at Daventry to function as a genuine RFI, shows that the current policy is flawed.
  •        Because of the proximity to the M1 motorway, there are at least 7 proposed schemes in this region, all claiming to be RFI’s. This concentration is not the balanced ‘National Network’ that Government policy seeks to promote.
  •       The developers base their case on Government forecasts of a doubling of rail freight by 2030. These forecasts are simply assumptions of how many warehouses might be built and a further assumption that they will all want to use a rail link facility.
  •       The damage that would be done to the environment through, traffic congestion, air noise and light pollution and potentially, increased flood risk, was passionately raised by many questioners and highlighted the sensitivity of the two sites and that far more would be lost than gained by their destruction.
As the future of these proposals will be decided by the Government on the advice of the Planning Inspectorate, it is hoped that Andrea Leadsom MP has listened to all the arguments and urge a rethink of the unclear and self defeating policy on the planning of rail freight.

See note on 'Who to contact' page regarding how to contact MP's during the General Election 



The Planning Inspectorate has published its 'Opinion' on the Scoping Document submitted by Roxhill. It highlights many of the points raised by objectors and issues raised by consultees such as Natural England, Anglian Water and the Environment Agency.

Roxhill will now have to address all these aspects in their final Application which is expected in September. The Inspectorate has made it clear that Roxhill will not be able to rely on evidence compiled for the Howden's Application and will have to provide up to date facts and figures.

An 'Action Group' specifically for the Roxhill 'Gateway' proposal has been formed with representation from Collingtree, Milton Malsor and Roade.
The group will be working closely with the 'Stop Rail Central' team as there is the possibility of both adjoining sites getting the go ahead and creating a Warehouse Park of 13million sq ft covering over 1100 acres.

A further 10 parishes in areas around the proposed sites and affected by traffic and pollution issues on surrounding roads, are supporting our 'Parishes Against Pollution' campaign. These Parish Councils have adopted a statement of principle urging that major planning proposals do not worsen the environment through air, noise and light pollution - a requirement of National Planning Policy Guidance. More parishes in the region have been approached for their support.
 

On a cost/ benefit analysis, the flaws in the case for both Rail Central and Roxhill Gateway, seem clear. As regards alleged benefits  - neither responds to a genuine strategic need, neither conforms to local planning guidelines, neither will reduce net HGV traffic, neither will contribute to the desired employment profile for the area, the suggested Junction 15 improvements are inadequate ( only £6m !!) and the offer of a bypass around Roade will create as many problems as it solves, in terms of yet more housing and simply moving existing and additional traffic, and the pollution they emit, downwind of the whole village.

On the other hand, the costs -  in terms of environmental damage, worsened traffic congestion and loss of farmland and wildlife habitat – are massive.

 

Northampton Borough Council has responded to the initial Scoping Document from the Planning Inspectorate and have raised many fundamental questions - a link to their formal letter is on the 'Top Down Planning'page


Local MP Andrea Leadsom has written to Roxhill and a copy of her letter can be found on the link below:


FOR FURTHER DETAILS ON THE PROPOSAL - CLICK HERE 
FOR BACKGROUND ON THE NEW PLANNING PROCESS - CLICK HERE
FOR WHO TO CONTACT - CLICK HERE