Wellingborough could become home for new Great British Railways HQ

Station Island at the Stanton Cross development could provide the new public body with a new home

By Alison Bagley
Friday, 11th March 2022, 11:46 am
Updated Friday, 11th March 2022, 11:48 am
The area of Wellingborough known as Station Island
The area of Wellingborough known as Station Island

Wellingborough could be the new home of the headquarters of Great British Railways (GBR) if a bid to be submitted by North Northamptonshire Council is successful.

The authority wants the area to host the GBR HQ at the 'Station Island' site adjacent to Wellingborough Station - part of the Stanton Cross development.

GBR is the new public body in charge of the UK's train services and the Government has committed to basing the offices outside London.

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Discussions to put forward the bid also have the support of Stanton Cross Developments LLP which is the key landowner and principal developer of Stanton Cross.

Cllr Graham Lawman, the council’s executive member for highways, travel and assets, said: “This is tremendously exciting for North Northamptonshire and I’m delighted to be supporting this bid to Government to become the HQ for Great British Railways.

“We have an excellent strategic position nationally and the Wellingborough site would be the perfect fit for such an operation, having a long history as a hub and sidings for the railway in addition to the opportunities afforded by the Station Island employment site within the Stanton Cross development.”

The Government recently launched the competition to find a location based outside of London for GBR. The organisation will manage the country's rail infrastructure and set timetables and ticket prices.

Wellingborough commuters were disappointed after the new timetable introduced last May downgraded Wellingborough's intercity train link to London St Pancras adding to journey times to the Capital.

The £1.5 billion Midland Main Line Upgrade by Network Rail included new overhead electric line equipment between Bedford and Corby and two types of train - Intercity and 360 Connect.

After the introduction of the new electric service Wellingborough commuters no longer have regular Intercity trains and those travelling north have to change at Kettering - commuters heading to London only have the slower 360 Connect service available to them.

Marketing for Station Island states the connectivity to London as being 48 minutes in promotional material although most journeys take 55 minutes according to National Rail.Part of the bid could use the Wellingborough 'Roundhouse' - the former engine shed that campaigners from Wellingborough Civic Society fought to protect. NNC believes that the with its well-connected central location, railway heritage and 'commitment to the levelling up agenda' the bid could be a strong candidate and bring a number of high-skilled jobs to the area.

Council leader Cllr Jason Smithers said: “Being host to the headquarters of this new organisation would be a tremendous boost to the area and I’m committed to working as hard as possible to make this a reality.

“Not only would North Northants benefit from such a project but equally our area has a tremendous amount to offer GBR.”

Chris Tompkins, pre-construction director on behalf of Stanton Cross Developments LLP, said: “We are delighted to support North Northamptonshire Council in their expression of interest and promote the restored former railway siding as a potential home for the HQ for GBR. Located immediately adjacent to the listed Wellingborough Rail Station there is fantastic potential to build on the site’s rail heritage.”

The council will submit an expression of interest to Government by March 16 as a first step in the selection process.

Council officers would like public support is important to help back-up the bid by tweeting a message and using the tags: #backtheNNbidGBRHQ #DestinationGBR

People can also email support for the bid to [email protected]

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