Chiltern Chalfont services is the latest twist in the long-running saga over how the gap in the M25's service areas will be filled.
It is planned by Extra, and proposed to be built at a new interchange, on the M25 between J16 and J17. The facilities will all be placed to the east of the motorway.
The proposal is currently in the early consultation phases. A dedicated mini-site has been created to help gauge opinions before a planning application is submitted formally.
As a result, little detail on the proposed facilities is currently available, but we can assume it will be closely based on the Warren Farm plan, which is detailed below. That previous proposal received numerous objections and concerns, including from local action group SENSE4CSP and Thames Valley Police. It is reasonable to assume that many of these objectors will be making their views known again.
In justifying that scheme, Extra had stated that there was a "significant public safety need" to address driver tiredness. Buckinghamshire County Council had agreed that the region does not have enough HGV parking spaces.
Extra say they have chosen the eastern side of the M25 following lessons learned from the objectors, and "significant landscaping" will be provided. The new site is part of the current HS2 construction site, but won't be affected by the finished project.
Rejected Warren Farm Plan
Extra first proposed a service area at Warren Farm, on the opposite side of the M25, in 2018. Planning permission for it was refused after a public inquiry in November 2021, which is why Extra have started looking at this new location.
At Warren Farm, the amenity building would have been shaped like a giant leaf, with a grass roof except for another leaf-shaped glass section, all attached to the hotel by a glazed entrance. At the back would have been a walk around a lake, feeding into a stream which would run down the middle of the car park.
Inside the building would have been 12 units spread out around a central seating area, with toilets at the back. Two of those units would have had a mezzanine area, with a business centre and offices joining them on the first floor. An on-site hotel would have had its own dedicated restaurant area.
As is common with Extra services, no brands had been named, as this would have depended on what interest was received - but you could have expected the interest to be similar to what was at Leeds Skelton Lake.
The forecourt would have had 36 car pumps and would also have had a grass roof, as would the hotel. A large HGV parking area had been designated. A number of variations of the masterplan were published, experimenting with different building positions and road layouts.
This Warren Farm land was the subject of a service area planned between 1996 and 1999, by Total. This would have had facilities on both sides of the road. The plan was rejected at the 1999 public inquiry and Cobham was eventually built instead, but that is at full capacity.
In August 2017, Highways England started building a new exit on the M25 south of J17, which was to allow construction vehicles direct access to the High Speed 2 railway construction site. They claim the slip roads (which are very well-aligned) would only have 10 years service. In October 2018, Extra announced that they wanted to use this site in future to build a large service station.
Extra's plan didn't actually re-use the existing slip roads, but build a new trumpet-style interchange with a large loop.
Publicity for the Extra plan was released in October 2018, with local consultations held in January 2019, and an outline planning application submitted in July 2019. Highways England otherwise gave their approval to the proposals in November 2020, but the local authority announced in June 2021 that it was "minded to refuse" the plan on the grounds that it would be inappropriate in the green belt.
The plan for Warren Farm stood against other motorway service areas planned for this part of the M25, namely Moto's Kings Langley and Welcome Break's Colne Valley. Technically, there is no reason why all three couldn't be built, but it would be very unlikely that this could be justified. In the event, Kings Langley and the original Warren Farm plan have both been refused.
By this point a public inquiry was already required, and this ruled against the proposal in November 2021. In March 2022 Extra went public with the new proposal.
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