Ref – Broughton and Old Dalby Parish Neighbourhood Plan
Thank you for your email of 20 July 2017 providing Network Rail with an opportunity to comment on the abovementioned Neighbourhood Plan. With reference to the protection of the railway, Network Rail has only one observation to make. We wish to place an objection to the proposed Plan Policy BE4. We consider the policy is worded too rigidly in terms of the future requirements of the test track facility that runs through the area. The test track and associated Melton Rail and Innovation Development Centre is a live operational testing and trialling facility and is a strategically important site for the wider UK rail industry. It is both a key part of existing UK rail testing facilities and also part of a new network of centres called the UK Rail Research and Innovation Network to be launched shortly. The site provides a safe operational non-mainline environment for the testing and trialling of new and modified rolling stock, plant, on-track machines, infrastructure, equipment and technology. It is also of significant importance to the local economy.
It is also consistent with the National Planning Policy Guidance, including the need to contribute to building a strong, responsive and competitive economy, by ensuring that sufficient land of the right type is available in the right places and at the right time to support growth and innovation; and by identifying and coordinating development requirements, including the provision of infrastructure.
It is imperative that the test track and Melton RIDC are able to develop in line with future demand for the services that it offers the UK rail industry and with this in mind, we feel that the wording of policy BE4 is too inflexible in relation to the proposed blanket ban on any extension of operating hours as this may inhibit future development of the site. We also consider the second element of the policy is slightly confusing as written and we suggest a small alteration to remove the implied negative in relation to future passenger services.
We would suggest that the policy is reworded as follows;
POLICY BE4: Old Dalby Test Track
Proposals for the testing of trains and railway equipment will be supported provided any noise, dust, fumes or other disturbance, including light, does not give rise to significant adverse impacts on health and quality of life.
Any alteration to extend the operating hours will be carefully considered subject to its effect on the impacts on health and quality of life as outlined above.
The Plan will not support any proposals that may adversely impact the integrity and infrastructure of the test track and therefore threaten its potential future use for passenger services. However, should the line completely cease being used for rail purposes the Plan supports its re-use as a footpath, cycleway or for public transport uses.