Hinckley National Rail Freight Interchange
Developer's consultation is inadequate says Council
Blaby District Council has submitted its first response following the submission of the application for the Hinckley National Rail Freight Interchange.
The application, from developer's Tritax Symmetry, was lodged with the Planning Inspectorate on 03 February 2023.
The Council had two weeks to comment on whether it believed consultation on the proposals had been adequate.
This Adequacy of Consultation Representation has now been sent into the Planning Inspectorate highlighting significant concerns and setting out the Council's belief that the consultation was not adequate and falls short of the standard expected.
The scheme, earmarked for 660 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.
While Blaby District Council can comment on the application it does not make the final decision – the scheme is considered of such scale and national importance it is determined by the Secretary of State.
The Council's Adequacy of Consultation Representation says:
- Incomplete, inaccurate, and vague information has been provided and requested information remains outstanding.
- The Applicant's approach is inconsistent with government guidance and the legal principles of consultation.
- While the Statutory Consultation began January 2022, the highways modelling inputs were not agreed until March 2022 and the impacts and mitigation are still not agreed and may change. There has been premature and inadequate consultation in this regard.
- There is incomplete information on the need for and operation of the development as a rail freight interchange.
- The impacts of increased barrier down time at Narborough Level Crossing, including detrimental air quality for residents, have not been satisfactorily considered.
- The landscape impacts have not been adequately mitigated.
Councillor Terry Richardson, Leader of Blaby District Council said: "For any consultation exercise to be effective, there must be genuine dialogue between the parties and meaningful consideration of the consultation responses by the applicant.
"The information provided by the applicant also needs to set out the justification for the scheme and be capable of being fully understood by stakeholders and members of the public. While reviewing the consultation documents, we found essential evidence and information were simply not there or were presented before they were ready.
"This is the case despite the Council's frequent requests for extra information made in both writing and verbally during working groups and at other meetings between the Council and the applicant.
"Our conclusion is that incomplete, inaccurate and vague information has been provided and information requested remains outstanding."
The Planning Inspectorate has until Monday 06 March to decide whether to accept the application. If the application is accepted, the Planning Inspectorate will begin assessing the developer's plans.
There will be a six-month long examination phase, including hearings, towards the end of the year and a decision is expected by the middle of next year.
Posted: Tue, 21 Feb 2023 15:21 by Deputy Clerk