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Kings Langley

Kings Langley

Road: M25 at J20
(also accessible to traffic on the A41)
Location: Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire
Developer: Moto
Grid reference: TL077009 (SABRE Maps)

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Kings Langley site plan.
The planned road and site layout.

Kings Langley services was a service area planned for M25 J20, devised by Moto. They had suggested some stakeholders were pressing for it to open as Watford services.

It was an unusual design which would have utilised the slope of the land to place the delivery yard can be underneath the building, and allowing the building to offer a view across the valley without any roads in the way. The slope is unnatural, as it is mostly made up of spoil from the 2012 M25 widening works anyway. The lodge and petrol station would have had grass roofs.

Space had been allocated for Greggs, Arlo's, M&S Simply Food, WHSmith, Costa, KFC, Burger King and a gaming arcade, as well as the usual petrol station, motel and drive thru coffee shop. The motel, whose franchise hadn't been decided, would have been a three-storey building set into the hillside, with 80 rooms.

The site was 9.02 hectares in size, and Moto said it would have created 200 full-time jobs.

Much of the fate of the proposal hinged on whether the authorities believed it would add to the traffic issues at this busy roundabout, which forms the start of a major dual carriageway. A minor upgrade to the junction was planned, as well as a new roundabout on the A41. Highways England raised concerns about a possible impact on the motorway, while Hertfordshire County Council concluded that the project would cause traffic congestion. The county council also argued that there was insufficient evidence that this was the best site available and that it would be positioned too far from where the employees would live.

In total 1,600 objections were received, making it the most disliked planning application Three Rivers District Council had ever dealt with. Planning permission was refused in July 2021.

It remains to be seen whether Moto will appeal the decision. Moto will be aware that there were three more service areas proposed for this part of the M25: Extra were proposing Warren Farm a few miles to the west (which was also refused) and more recently Chiltern Chalfont, while Welcome Break are still developing one at Colne Valley. Extra were one of the objectors to Moto's proposal.

Technically there is no reason why all three couldn't be built, but the planning authorities are likely to rule that only one would be necessary, and any planning permission is likely to follow a long and complicated process.

Project History

In 2016 there were reports that Moto had been investigating the possibility of a service area in this area. That plan appeared to go away in favour of other projects, but Moto came forward with the Kings Langley plan in 2018. It was included in Three Rivers Council's 2018 draft local plan as a potential motorway service area.

In October 2018, as Extra's plan came into the public eye, Moto launched a promotional website. An official planning application was made in April 2019.

Moto said they ruled out the Extra J17-J18 site because it's too small and too dependent on HS2. They also looked at building at either side of J17 and to the north of J20; all apparently too constrained.

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