UK: The Planning Inspectorate is to review proposals for the development of a rail freight interchange and distribution hub at Hinckley in Leicestershire.

Being promoted by Tritax Symmetry, the project envisages development of a rail freight interchange and distribution centre in an area between the Leicester – Hinckley – Nuneaton railway to the northwest and the M69 motorway to the southeast.

As well as the rail terminal, the site would provide up to 850 000 m2 of logistics space in a range of warehouses. These would have roof-mounted solar panels able to generate more than 40 MW. The scheme also envisages £70m of improvements to the local road network, including a link road from the site and the A47 to an expanded Junction 2 on the M69 and the creation of green spaces next to Burbage Common with the planting of 20 000 trees.

Enhancements to the scheme have been incorporated following extensive consultation with local residents, such as additional landscaping measures and the provision of a footbridge at the Outwoods level crossing.

According to the promoters, HNRFI could be served by up to 16 freight trains a day, potentially removing 1·6 billion lorry-km from UK roads each year. The scheme is expected to create around 8 400 jobs in the region.

A formal application for a Development Consent Order will now be examined by the Planning Inspectorate, which is expected to send its recommendation to the Secretary of State for Transport in early 2024.

‘The acceptance of the application for Hinckley National Rail Freight Interchange marks an important milestone in delivering significant investment in low carbon buildings and infrastructure for Leicestershire’, said Tritax Symmetry Planning Director Sinead Turnbull.

‘The unique location, with excellent strategic connections, will mean it is one of the most important rail freight and infrastructure projects for the region’s connectivity. It will generate new apprenticeships and skills for the region in a fast-growing and future-facing logistics industry — one that is the lifeblood of the economy and vital to our country’s growth.’