The government has upheld an appeal by ProLogis to develop a 2.1 million sq ft Strategic Rail Freight Interchange on a 156 acre distribution park at Howbury Park, Erith at junction 1a of the M25.
Robin Woodbridge, ProLogis UK vice president commenting on the decision said: “Howbury provided the [British] government with an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to a greener approach for distribution through the increased use of rail freight and as part of its strategy for Sustainable Distribution.
“We are pleased with the announcement not just in terms of the go ahead for Howbury, but for the message it sends as to the part such facilities can play in helping the UK’s distribution industry operate in a more sustainable way.
“It is a bold step and gives us confidence to pursue our broader plans of bringing to the market a network of rail-freight interchange projects across the UK. In a country with such a severe restraint on land supply plus a very complex planning system, it takes very substantial investment on our part to get a project of this nature to the point where it can be properly considered by government.”
ProLogis expects to develop the scheme using the latest in sustainable construction. Its four warehouses will be “cable stay” structures, with external supports like a football stadium, enabling occupiers to rack, heat and sprinkler-fit each building more efficiently.
Other features include fully-planted intensive green roofs, bordered by windows and cedar wood cladding. Overall, Howbury’s designs will achieve energy reductions of 85 per cent compared with a conventional shed and water consumption in the offices by 20 per cent. The grey water from the development will be used to re-hydrate the surrounding 130 acres of environmentally sensitive marshland, which is prone to drought. ProLogis will enhance the marshland with pathways and a visitor centre before handing it over to a management group for public use.
The £80m project is expected to take hundreds of lorries off the roads and according to ProLogis save 35,000 tonnes of carbon emissions a year and create up to 2,500 new jobs.
Howbury Park at Erith is one of the freight interchange locations where ProLogis’s UK-wide Rail Freight Strategy is coming to fruition. The company also owns Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal (DIRFT), and was among the pioneers for the early development of rail-linked sites with its scheme at ProLogis Park Coventry.
In addition, the company is proposing further new schemes at Parkside, Warrington, and at Corby. ProLogis intends that the new rail freight intermodal sites will connect into a pan-European network of existing ProLogis rail-linked facilities as well as to UK and European ports.