Consultation on 440 acre rail freight interchange and warehouses

A two month consultation will get underway in the New Year over plans for a 440 acre rail freight interchange and warehousing park in the Leicestershire countryside. Tritax Symmetry wants to build the huge development on land near Hinckley in the west of the county, close to the village of Elmesthorpe, with a slip-road onto junction 2 of the M69. It said there would be more than 9 million sq ft of warehouse and logistics space – 7 million sq ft at ground level and 2.1 million sq ft at mezzanine level.

The developer wants the 14-warehouse industrial estate – including a 1.5 million sq ft warehouse – to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It has said it could eventually create 8,400 jobs. The buildings would go up on land south of the existing railway Leicester to Hinckley railway track and to the west of the motorway.

The development would include new sidings and freight transfer facilities on a 34 acre plot alongside the track – which is part of Network Rail’s ‘F2N’ freight route between Felixstowe and Nuneaton. Tritax Symmetry says it is strategically placed on the UK rail network to provide direct links to and from major cargo terminals at Southampton, Liverpool and the Humber estuary. On its site website the developer said: “The site is located in what the UK logistics industry regards as the ‘Golden Triangle’.

“The East Midlands is home to a fifth of the UK’s manufacturing capability and 45 per cent of British rail freight goes through the Midlands.” The consultation will run from Wednesday, January 12, 2022. Back in 2020 South Leicestershire MP Alberto Costa led a debate in Parliament raising residents’ fear about the 440 acre site.

Mr Costa, who was supported in the debate by Bosworth MP Dr Luke Evans, said if approved by the Secretary of State for Transport, the development could see trains a mile long using the interchange. In 2019 he wrote to 11,000 constituents for their views on the proposed site and said that almost 1,600 people – of 2,000 that replied – were against it. He said the main concerns regarded the environmental effects and the impact on the so-called Fosse Villages, including Croft, Huncote, Sapcote, Sharnford, Stoney Stanton and Thurlaston.

Two months ago Mr Costa and Mr Evans met with parish council members from across the Fosse Villages and parts of Hinckley and Bosworth as well as councillors from Blaby District Council, Leicestershire County Council and Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council, to discuss the concerns. Mr Costa said: “The sheer size and scale of the rail freight proposals would have a significant impact on both South Leicestershire and Bosworth – hence I am immensely grateful to be working closely with Luke Evans, my fellow MP, in opposing these plans. “If approved, it would have a hugely significant impact on the local area in terms of the increases in traffic movements and the subsequent pressures on local infrastructure which I fear could be at real risk of being overwhelmed, and not forgetting the sizeable and detrimental environmental impact.

“I am pleased however that the local communities in and around the area are united in their opposition to the Hinckley National Rail Freight Interchange and I very much look forward to continue working closely with the affected parish councils and councillors in fighting these plans in a unified manner.”

Plan of the Hinckley National Rail Freight Interchange

The consultation will include a number of face-to-face and virtual public events for people to take a look at the plans and talk to Tritax Symmetry representatives. Coun Terry Richardson, Leader of Blaby District Council, said: “This is an important time for residents, as this statement of community consultation shows how and when Tritax will be engaging people to have their say. “Whilst we will not be deciding any application, officers and councillors will be spending a significant amount of time over the next year and more reviewing the plans before offering our own detailed response to the Planning Inspectorate.”

Hinckley and Bosworth borough and Leicestershire county councillor David Bill has been calling for specific figures on how much extra lorry traffic will be created by the rail freight Interchange. He said the borough council had yet to see any figures about the projected lorry traffic in and out of the site. Although the site is within Blaby district, the final plans will be decided on by the Planning Inspectorate, as the scheme is deemed to be of national importance.

Sinead Turnbull, planning director at Tritax Symmetry (Hinckley) Limited, said they were committed to consulting with the community on the proposals.

He said: “We want to work with the local community to develop our proposals and look forward to engaging with local people to hear what they have to say in the new year.”

For more information residents can contact Tritax Symmetry (Hinckley) Ltd by:

  • Emailing the consultation team at hinckleynrfi@lexcomm.co.uk

  • Writing to c/o Lexington Communications, Third Floor, Queens House, Queen Street, Manchester M2 5HT

  • Telephoning the Community Information Line on 0844 556 3002 (weekdays, 9.00am – 5.30pm)

  • Visiting the project website at hinckleynrfi.co.uk