The only motorway services at this end of the road network, hosting all of Roadchef's brands to attract drivers heading towards North Wales and the Wirral (and, presumably, Chester) to pull in.
Catering: Chozen Noodle, Costa Coffee, The Garden Square Deli, LEON, McDonald's, Costa Express, f'real Milkshakes, Krispy Kreme, Skwishee Iced Drinks, Costa Drive Thru Shops: Phone Tech, SPAR, WHSmith Amenities: Super 8 Hotel, Changing Places, Jackpot £500, Showers Outdoor Space: Grass areas round building Charging Points: GRIDSERVE Electric Highway HPC 350kW CCS, 100kW CHAdeMO & 22kW Type 2 Forecourt: Shell, Select, Deli by Shell, Costa Express
First 2 hours free for all vehicles, after which cars must pay £13 and HGVs, caravans and coaches £28, or £31 to include a £10 food voucher.
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Road Chef Motorways Ltd
Chester Service Area
M56 Junction 14
Trivia and History
Chester services didn't open until 1998, but the idea dates back much longer than that.
See also: M56 Service Area Planning
Chester was originally planned in 1970, under the name Hapsford. It would have opened at the same time as services near M53 J5 (Eastham Rake) and M56 J8 (Agden). The plans were then scaled back as traffic flows in the region were expected to be low.
A gravel parking area for cars and lorries was opened in 1978, along with a small toilet block. This was known as Hapsford picnic area. It was maintained by the local authority and had a mobile catering van.
In 1986 the Department of Transport confirmed that they still intended to upgrade Hapsford to a full motorway site.
Motorway Services Planning
In 1992, service area planning was deregulated. A development firm called Bushwing Plc proposed turning the site into a full motorway service area. It would have had a diamond-shaped amenity building. They included drawings of signs showing that the site would have been called 'Hapsford' and branded 'Bushwing', with a grey-on-green logo.
That plan was given permission, but Bushwing changed their mind. In 1995 they came back with two options: option 1 would be built in the north-west corner of the junction, accessed from traffic lights on the A5117. There was an additional picnic area with a take-away building, and a lodge behind the L-shaped amenity building. This was refused permission.
They also put forward their second option, which was on the site of the existing picnic area, but on a much larger site with community woodland at the back. This would have had a separate drive thru building, a lodge and a C-shaped amenity building. The entrance would have led to a small atrium with exits for the hotel, restaurant, a burger bar/café, toilets and an arcade, plus three concessions. This was approved.
Meanwhile, an applicant called Adamstan applied to build a rival site either side of the M56 at Hare's Lane. This was refused.
Shell registered a second plan for 27 acres of roughly the same land in 1995. This was taken to a public inquiry in 1997. Chester City Council supported the Bushwing option because it was more spread out, but the Department of the Environment ruled that Shell's more compressed plan would be less damaging.
Shell chose to work with Roadchef, who spent £7million building the service area. Roadchef were originally intending to call the development Hapsford services, but at the last moment this was changed to Chester. David McClean was the contractor.
It opened on 29 July 1998, in a ceremony attended by Andrew Miller MP.
In Shell's original drawings, the building was going to be closer to the forecourt, but was moved to leave space for the lodge.
The building actually provided at Chester was large, but simple. On the right was Wimpy (with 41 seats), then the shop. On the left was the seating area (254 seats), with the restaurant servery behind it. The corridor then continued into the toilets area with a game arcade, tourist information centre and offices. It was decorated with a vintage theme inside. The opening of a Costa counter in the seating area made the corridor much more obvious.
Parking was provided for 460 cars, 57 lorries and 17 coaches. The biggest difficulty with the site was planning around the overhead power cables, and large pylon. For some reason, the area around the pylon (originally supposed to be car parking) was turned into what appears to be caravan bays, which are now closed off and abandoned.
The building was damaged by a kitchen fire in August 2004. Customers were directed to the Travel Inn hotel for refreshments.
There had been several plans to change its corridor-style layout, but no progress was made until 2013. This was when a new entrance was provided, and the pathway was changed to snake through the seating area. The relatively new Hot Food Co was replaced by the motorway network's second Fresh Food Café counter. From this point Chester would be treated as one of Roadchef's premier sites.
A Pasty Presto kiosk was here for a short while and was the most northerly in the UK. Roadchef also opened their first Pret A Manger here in December 2017. The Pret A Manger store eventually closed in early 2020 following an unsuccessful trial and the space was later reutilised for additional McDonald's seating.
A LEON restaurant opened here on 29 November 2021 replacing the former Chozen Noodle unit. Chozen Noodle later returned as part of the refurbishment of the former Fresh Food Café unit in late December 2021 with a new Garden Square Deli unit serving Chozen Noodle and New York Bakery products opening on 21 December 2021.
The Days Inn hotel and incorporated Regus Express meeting room closed in early 2023, with the building being converted into the UK's first Super 8 hotel, another of Wyndham's hotel brands. The hotel reopened on 21 July 2023 with a new bar and restaurant on the ground floor and a selection of different sized rooms catering for all as well as new electric vehicle charging points outside the hotel.
Shell removed their Recharge charging point in 2022 in anticipation of adding three additional charging points at the back of their forecourt. These were expected to be switched on in August 2023, but the infrastructure is now not expected to be completed until February 2024. Meanwhile, Roadchef switched on 12 new high-powered GRIDSERVE chargers in their car park in October 2023.
Works then commenced at the other end of the car park in October 2023 to build a drive thru lane next to the McDonald's restaurant. This is expected to open in early 2024.
|Lymm (14 miles)||Services on the M56||Saughall (A494, 7 miles)|
|Sandbach (M6 south, 35 miles)||Roadchef services||none|
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