THE first public consultation regarding a controversial six million sq ft rail exchange which could create 7,000 jobs in South Derbyshire has been held.
Bosses from Goodman Shepherd took questions from members of the public in Repton on the first phase of what is expected to be the largest planning application ever submitted in the district.
Etwall and Egginton Common, just south of the Toyota factory, has been chosen as the ideal location for the massive hub, which could be worth more than £700 million to the region’s economy.
But for all the employment and economical benefits, the project, on which work could start as early as 2016, has not been without its detractors.
Councillors in Repton have demanded that if the depot is to be built, a new link road from the A38 to the site must be added to take the heat off villages in the area.
Chairman John Shortt said a lot of people in Repton ‘have concerns’ while Egginton Parish Council too has voiced its displeasure.
Property developer Goodman and construction giant Shepherd entered into partnership especially for the project, with chiefs keen to work with neighbouring villages who are sceptical of the proposals and involve them in the process as much as possible.
Three options are on the table for the public to choose from, all largely similar to each other but with the rail-head shunt shifted into different locations.
A key message that Ian Pritchard, development director at Goodman Shepherd, was keen to get across was that all access to the site would be via the Burnaston interchange, so that the majority of the traffic heading in and out of the site would be from the A50 and A38.
While there was an admission that some workers may come from nearby, Mr Pritchard insisted it would not be the case that sleepy villages would suddenly become overrun with traffic.
He told the Mail: “One of our principles was that the only access to the site would be at the Burnaston interchange.
“Clearly, there will be people wanting to come to the site to work from the villages but I think the impact of that will be fairly low. There will not suddenly be a flurry of HGVs coming through villages.”
MILLIONS OF POUNDS, THOUSANDS OF JOBS AND JUST ONE SITE
NEARLY 4,000 acres of land just south of South Derbyshire’s Toyota factory was seen as the perfect opportunity to create a new rail exchange for the East Midlands.
Situated in range of major cities Derby, Nottingham, Leicester and Birmingham, the site fitted neatly with the Government’s preference of relying more on rail exchange for speed and to ease congestion on the roads.
At a cost of £250 million and set to be worth triple that amount to the region’s economy, work could begin as early as 2016 and take between 10 and 15 years to complete.
Goodman Shepherd’s development director Ian Pritchard said: “Government policy is to take as much freight from road to rail as possible, for reasons including carbon savings and reducing congestion. The East Midlands is under-provided in this area.
“The site was identified some time ago. We have got a good handle for the demand in the area and we felt it was a good opportunity to bring the scheme forward.
“The opportunity comes from the Derby area in the heart of manufacturing. There are a lot of companies that can benefit from the site.”
Mr Pritchard said the company would be looking to work with residents in the coming months.
He said: “That’s what the consultation is about. It’s a chance for us to engage with stakeholders and residents and say ‘how can we improve?’”