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Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council has submitted its first response after the application for the Hinckley National Rail Freight Interchange (HNFRI) was submitted.
The application, from developers Tritax Symmetry, was lodged with the Planning Inspectorate on 3 February 2023. The council had two weeks to comment on whether it believed consultation on the submission had been adequate.
The scheme, earmarked for 440 acres of land between the M69 and the Leicester to Birmingham railway line, is to the north-east of Hinckley - partially within the Hinckley and Bosworth Borough with the majority situated within the Blaby District – and would be based close to Junction 2 of the M69 to the north of Burbage Common.
Up to 268 hectares (equivalent to 662 acres) of land would be used for the construction of a rail terminal for the loading and unloading of freight trains under the proposals, providing 650,000 square metres of floorspace and up to 250,000 square metres of mezzanine space.
The council responded to the consultation on 21 February and advised the Planning Inspectorate:
- Time available for consultation was inadequate given the scale of the proposal and the information that had to be absorbed
- Some of the information available during consultation was incomplete, for example, highway modelling
- The baseline information used was incomplete in parts
- This rendered the consultation ineffective which falls short of the government guidance and case law on what constitutes effective consultation
The Planning Inspectorate have until 6 March to decide whether to accept the application. If the application is accepted, the Planning Inspectorate will begin assessing the developer’s plans and the council will have further opportunities to formally comment on the details of the proposal and the impact it will have on the borough.
If the Planning Inspectorate accept that the application can proceed to Examination there will then be an opportunity for the public to get involved during an expected six-month-long examination phase, including public hearings, which should take place later this year; a decision is expected by the middle of next year.
The Borough Council, Blaby District Council and Leicestershire County Council are statutory consultees in the process but will not be deciding the application. Due to the size of the proposed development, it is classed as a ‘Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project’ and any decision will be made by the Secretary of State for Transport after the recommendation is made by the Planning Inspectorate following the Examination.
Chair of the HNRFI Working Group for the Borough Council, Councillor Paul Williams said:
The council responded to the consultation on 21st February and advised the Planning Inspectorate that in our opinion the consultation falls short of what should have been undertaken, highlighting deficiencies in the time and information available during consultations, and there are limitations and gaps in the baseline information provided. Overall, the council found that the consultation was incomplete, inaccurate, and vague with repeated requests for information not met in full by Tritax.
If the application is accepted, we remain deeply concerned about the huge environmental impact this will have on Burbage Common and particularly the impact on the local area of the anticipated up to 16 freight trains a day with the consequential associated 50,000 daily HGV movements on the local area and I know this concerns local residents too.
The council remains opposed to this proposal in principle but has yet to comment on the details.
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