Leeds Skelton Lake services
In the middle of the first COVID-19 lockdown, a brand-new motorway service area quietly opened at Leeds Skelton Lake. Over the following summer, more partners slowly moved in, and now the building is fully occupied and catering for both passing motorists and nearby residents.
Catering: Chopstix Noodle Bar, KFC, LEON, McDonald's, Nando's, PizzaExpress, Starbucks, The Good Breakfast, The Pasty Shop, Tortilla, Upper Crust, Lavazza 2Go Shops: Top Gift, Urban Express Amenities: Ramada, Changing Places, Multi Faith Room, Quicksilver, RSPB Bird Viewing Platform, Showers Outdoor Space: Large walk around back of building with connections to Skelton Country Park; Children's Play Area Charging Points: IONITY 350kW CCS Forecourt: Texaco, SPAR, dailyDeli, Costa Express, f'real Milkshakes, F'wip Frozen Desserts, Tango Ice Blast, Free Cash Machine
First 3 hours free for all vehicles, after which charges apply:
Up to 4 hours (including free period): £10. Up to 6 hours: £22. Up to 8 hours: £30. Up to 15 hours: £33. Up to 24 hours: £38. Up to 48 hours: £66. Up to 72 hours: £100. Each additional 24 hours or part: £35. Trailer swaps: £15. No return within the remaining 24 hour period.
Prices are paid at the parking machines in the car park and food court, and can be paid with GBP, EUR, fuel cards or SNAP.
This information is provided to us by third parties. You should always check with staff on site.
Leeds Skelton Lake Services
Trivia and Design
Although Leeds Skelton Lake calls itself a service station, it's documentation made it clear that it intended to attract customers from a new housing estate being built opposite. They have even sent promotional leaflets to nearby residents.
A short-lived change to the planning laws had briefly allowed service stations to do several jobs at once. This relaxed policy was undone soon after Leeds Skelton Lake opened, and while new rules can't be applied retrospectively, it does make for an awkward situation.
Leeds Skelton Lake has also struggled to meet its commitment to offer "hot food at all opening hours for consumption on the premises". Extra's policy of leasing units to operators meant nobody was doing it; motorists were instead directed to the forecourt, which technically could meet this requirement, but some users reported being turned away. Extra insured they were seeking a 24 hour brand partner, which arrived in December 2023 as McDonald's.
This is the only motorway service area to genuinely have two names. Its promoters couldn't decide between 'Leeds' or 'Skelton Lake', so they took both. A combination like that hasn't been seen since Washington-Birtley in 1970, and it sounds much more like the name of a railway station than a service station.
Leeds Skelton Lake was the first completely new motorway service area to open for almost six years. Some architectural progress had been made in that time, and the new building took all the successes of Cobham and Beaconsfield and mixed the environmental work done at Gloucester to create what it deemed to be a "new concept". Its natural features like its grass roof, tree-lined approach roads and the access to the lake have become the place's main selling point. The charging points are powered entirely by renewable energy, and there is a wildlife and visitor centre here too.
While it doesn't blend in with its surroundings quite as much as Gloucester does, as Leeds is bigger, busier and more corporate, it still feels much more 'at one with nature' than most service areas. Inside there is a central area with four kiosks, and an additional nine units around it, with a two-storey hotel joined on. Glulam timber louvres furnish the appearance of the green-roofed building, which was designed by Corstorphine + Wright and constructed by Morgan Sindall.
Outside, an RSPB visitor centre provides a viewing platform over Skelton Lake and it links in with Leeds City Council's Aire Valley Green Infrastructure Network.
The building won the Royal Town Planning Institute’s National Award for Excellence in Planning for the Natural Environment 2022, as well as the Regional Award for Planning Excellence. The project was praised for its community engagement, with Extra described as a "forward-thinking" client. A press release called it "an iconic gateway to Leeds".
The new brand partners are very similar to what's offered by Welcome Break, with a hint of Roadchef. Many of these units are operated by SSP, including the new retail and takeaway brand Urban Express.
London-based ethical farmers market Sourced Market were included in the launch, which Extra revealed was a partnership inspired by Westmorland. A Mi Casa Burritos kiosk was supposed to open, but this didn't happen.
As with all motorway service areas, the restaurants at Leeds Skelton Lake offered a number of indoor dining options during the winter 2020 COVID-19 lockdown. At Leeds in particular, this caused considerable tension, with a number of social media users and an online news website claiming that large gatherings of local people and family reunions were taking place here. Others celebrated the opportunity.
Extra did place notices advising that only those making an essential long-distance journey could eat on-site, but there was little they could do to enforce it. In March 2021, Leeds Police began making unannounced visits and advised that anybody who felt the service area offered a loophole in restrictions was mistaken.
The Regus Express meeting room permanently closed in early 2021, having lasted less than six months. That summer, the unused Mi Casa unit became Tortilla.
Sourced Market closed in February 2022 following the company going into liquidation. Welcome Break permanently replaced their Harry Ramsden's unit with The Good Breakfast, a brand it had already been sharing with, in August 2022.
Extra opened a new McDonald's restaurant here on 22 November 2023, replacing the former Burger King restaurant which closed in October. This is the first major change to the offerings here since opening in 2020, with more brand changes expected to follow over the course of Winter 2023.
The motorway here only opened in 1999, opening a new corridor for development and for service areas. Between 1997 and 2005, Extra had several plans for a service area and a Travelodge here rejected. This had a similar layout but with a smaller building and closer HGV parking. At the time the junction hadn't opened: it had been delayed and didn't open until 2009.
The missing junction was the main reason the service area wasn't built when the Secretary of State was called in to consider five proposed service areas in the Yorkshire area in 2005. He said that there was a "pressing need" for a new service area, and the problem with Skelton Lake (called Skelton Grange at the time) was that it couldn't be built quickly. This, and the fact it was too far south of the existing services, meant the plan was refused even though the Secretary of State was impressed by Skelton Lake's job opportunities and limited environmental damage.
By the time the East Leeds Link Road was finished, Extra were encountering their own financial difficulties and didn't make any proposals.
In Spring 2016, Extra submitted a new £50m plan for a service station here, creating 300 jobs. It was hoped that this would be open by Autumn 2017. They had been, for the previous few years, been fighting for permission to open services down the road at Sheffield too.
In October 2016, the proposals were approved in principle by Leeds City Council. Further approval was granted in March 2018 with an expected opening date in summer 2019. Extra awarded the filling station contract to Jos Richardson and Son, who will operate it as Texaco and SPAR on behalf of Valero, in what Extra called "an important new strategic relationship".
The opening date slipped back several times, with the petrol station finally opening on 30 March 2020. The main facilities remained closed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with the first few facilities in the main building opening on 1 July 2020. As COVID-19 lockdown restrictions eased, more facilities opened during July and August 2020.
|Woolley Edge (13 miles)|
Hartshead Moor (M62 west, 16 miles)
|Services on the M1||Wetherby (A1(M) north, 17 miles)|
|none nearby||Extra services||none nearby|
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