Plans for rail freight interchange in St Helens resubmitted

Michael Hunt

Astral Developments has submitted new proposals for a rail freight interchange on the site of the former Parkside colliery site to St Helens and Warrington Borough Councils.

The new application, which is now open to consultation for a further two months, incorporates further environmental statement documents covering a number of areas cited by protesters, including Parkside Action Group.

The masterplan is unchanged from the supplementary environmental statement submitted in February 2008, which made changes to the warehouse layout and increased warehouse sizes to 1.2m sq ft.

The transfer of freight to the railway network is hoped to reduce traffic movements and congestion on motorways and the plans include improved local public transport links including upgrading a local train station, free bus travel between the station and the interchange.

Astral's plans include 30% of the 225-acre site being dedicated to woodlands, lakes, wild open space, and managed parkland, known as Countryside Park.

However, members of Parkside Action Group have protested that a lack of train paths on congested railways mean it could become a "trojan horse" for a warehousing scheme and leave the local areas of Lowton and Abram with heavy traffic.

Astral believes the interchange, which would be built in Newton-le-Willows, will create around 10,000 jobs related on site.

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