Twelve object to Manchester development plans

Twelve objections to plans to provide extra capacity at Manchester Oxford Road and Piccadilly stations had been lodged as this issue of RAIL closed for press.

These will be heard at the Public Inquiry into Network Rail’s Transport and Works Act Order application, which was due to open in Manchester on September 29. Seven objections were anticipated at the Inquiry’s pre-meeting in July (RAIL 782).

The main works will provide two extra through platforms at Piccadilly and platform lengthening and straightening at Oxford Road. The application also seeks Listed Building Consents for work at those two stations, as well as at Deansgate station and on the Manchester South Junction & Altrincham Railway viaduct.

Objectors include a married couple “concerned about the increase in trains, particularly of freight/goods trains, that will be passing to the rear” of their flat, and who have been offered no noise protection such as double-glazing.

Costa Ltd objects to the loss of two retail outlets, and the University of Manchester raises concerns about noise and vibration effects at its North Campus buildings. Percy Brothers Ltd, which owns business premises that are largely to be demolished as part of the project, says the powers being sought are “excessive and unnecessary”, and that the work will extend over an “unreasonable timescale”.

Consultation on these proposals started on July 12 2013 (RAIL 727), and the Application was submitted to the Secretary of State on December 18 2014 (RAIL 762). The Inquiry’s Inspector is Peter G Robottom.

Network Rail’s website suggests construction will take three years from approval by the SoS (late 2015 to late 2018). The scheme, which is the key element of the Northern Hub project, was due to be ready in time for the December 2018 timetable change, but this slipped back by a year some time ago.

The various objectors’ statements give strong indication that Network Rail has not attempted to resolve their individual issues. Thus argument might be protracted and a favourable decision may not come for a year or more after the inquiry closes, which could delay completion into 2020. Further appeals after the SoS’s decision cannot be ruled out, as happened with both the Ordsall Chord and Oxford-Bicester TWAO applications.

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