Motorway Services Online

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More Unbuilt Services

< return to Unbuilt Services Most other pages in this section break down the history of service station planning based on each road. Here is where we stop doing that.

The UK doesn't have that many major motorways, so it doesn't take long to cross them all off. After that you're left with a load of fiddly, shorter routes, and a few plans which didn't make it very far.

Ministry of Transport policy had always been that short motorways don't need service areas. This was the case for the M50, and the M2 only just slipped through the net. Their exact measurement varied, but they usually said a motorway had to be 30 miles long before they would consider one.

Now that service areas are planned by the private sector, there is no such rule, but the planning authorities will be looking for evidence of a need for a new service area and this is unlikely to be found on a short motorway.

Unbuilt Motorways

First we look at what was planned for motorways which were never built.


All of London's radial motorways would have had one service area close to the end of the route. The M12, which was the never-built cousin of the M11 (see and Pathetic Motorways) would have had its own service area to mirror the nearby M11's Chigwell.

The M12's service area would have been in the vicinity of Havering-atte-Bower, about ½ mile north of the village and 15 miles from the centre of London. Notes about the proposal say that good landscaping would have been required to reduce the impact on the village.

The Havering-atte-Bower plan replaced a vague proposal for a service area at the junction of the M12 and the M16 (now M25), which was likely to be a large roundabout.

London Oxford Airport Motorway

The 2012 proposal to expand London Oxford Airport included plans for a new motorway between the A34 and the M1.

Those plans included an interchange with the A4129 near Longwick, which had land zoned for a service area in its north-western corner.

This is rather surprising seeing as new service areas are normally an afterthought, but as the entire motorway was a private proposal, the developer could include any services they had in mind too.

The airport expansion plans are unlikely to ever get as far as requiring a new motorway, so the idea of it having a service area is almost fanciful.

Lower Thames Crossing

In 2018, detailed plans for a new motorway between Kent and Essex were published.

This included an exit called Tilbury Junction, primarily provided to allow maintenance access to the tunnel. This also would have included provision for a service area, which was shown clearly in the visualisations. It is unusual for Highways England to suggest a new site for a service area, although they probably weren't expecting to get involved in any of the finer details of it.

It later turned out that Highways England didn't know how to open at the road as a motorway. On the topic of a motorway service area, they said in January 2020:

After further investigation and consideration of the feedback from statutory consultation, we have decided not to progress with the rest and service area.

National Highways later showed support for a motorway service area on the M25 instead, but without specifying an exact location.

Strensham-Solihull Motorway

In the 1970s, a new motorway was planed to cut the corner between the M5 and The Midlands (see Pathetic Motorways).

Traffic would have been directed away from the M5 just before Strensham, so the road needed its own service area. Three possible sites for service stations were considered around Defford and Pershore, at the bottom end of the road.

No service areas were planned at the northern end of the road, but as neither the M69 nor the relevant section of the M42 have any services, some would have been needed.

Western Orbital Motorway

The planned relief road for the West Midlands (see Pathetic Motorways) would have had a service area near its southern end. An opening date of 1995 was given.

Prior to that proposal being confirmed, "several sites" were analysed, generally on its central section, including Holly Bush and High Lodge/Stourton. It was noted that these were in scenic areas.

Private Proposals

M55 motorway.
The site where Kirkham services was planned.

Since 1992 in England, developers have been solely responsible for coming up with their own proposals for new motorway services. This led to an increase in proposals, but they are normally clustered around the same area and most are quickly ruled out.

New motorway services once planned for the motorways which haven't been covered elsewhere are listed here.

Significant unfulfilled plans for A-road service areas have been included too, but not every once-planned A-road restaurant is here. Service areas which were eventually built are not included in this table.

Place Location Proposed Resolved Outcome Notes
Paston A15/A47 Paston Interchange (east side) 1978 1979 Approved. Planned by Peterborough Development Corporation, but never developed.
Sevenoaks A21 Sevenoaks Bypass 1987 1987 Withdrawn. Planned by Mobil.
South Weald A12 Brentwood Bypass 1987 1987 Refused on appeal. Planned by Trusthouse Forte and Urban Land Properties.
Home Farm A3 Godalming Bypass 1989 1989 Refused. Planned by Mobil.
Gittisham A30 at Honiton 1990 1990 Refused. Planned by Blue Star.
Blackburn M65 J5 (north-west corner) 1992 1998 Withdrawn. Planned by Antler Project Management Ltd.
Straightway Head A30 1992 ongoing Approved and refused many times. Previously planned by Taylor Catering Foods. 2021 plan launched by MFG in partnership with McDonald's.
Brockworth A417 Shruddington Road (south corner) 1993 1993 Refused. Refused because it's green belt land with no proven need. Not to be confused with M5 J11A.
Bolney Crossways A23/A272 (centre) 1993 1995 Refused. Planned by BP and The Raven Group.
Burbage M69 J1 1994 1994 Unknown. Planned by Galliford. A smaller development was later proposed at Stretton Point.
Templepatrick M2 (NI) J4-5 1994 ongoing Approved. Planned by Trusthouse Forte and then Applegreen. North-west side was eventually built after a long wait; the south-east side holds planning permission but has little evidence of progress.
Kirkham M55 J1-3 (Church Road) 1995 1998 Refused on appeal. Planned by Hallam Land Management. Refused because of the loss of agricultural land and lack of proven need.
Kingswell M77 at J6 (north-east corner) 1995 2008 Withdrawn. Planned by Kingswell Developments Ltd. Included providing the missing slip roads at this junction. Approved twice, but no developer ever took it forward. Despite this, the 2009 A-Z listed it as an open service station. A billboard promised "a new generation service area". Plan included a 'Bogland Garden' nature reserve.
Bargeddie (Braehead Farm) M8 J9 (south-west corner) 1996 1997 unknown Planned by Texaco. Concerned old M8 upgrade proposals. Taken to public inquiry.
Gartcosh (Johnston Farm) M73 J2A (north corner) 1996 2006 Approved. Described as "roadside facilities" so may not have been a full service area, but the local plan did recommend this land be used as a motorway service area. Opposed by Roadchef.
Bargeddie M8 J9 (north-west corner) 1996 2011 Refused. Planned by Roadside Developments West Ltd. Concerned old M8 upgrade proposals. Was the council's preferred option. Taken to public inquiry. Records show it was still ongoing in 2011 (!!)
Fife M90 J1B (west side) 1999 2001 Withdrawn. Planned by Rosyth Leisureparc Limited.
Maidenhill M77 J5 (east side) 2000 2008 Withdrawn. Planned by Wimpey Homes And Carvill (Scotland) Ltd. Included modifying the junction layout.
Stepps (Hornhill Farm) M80 J3 (south-west corner) 2005 2008 Refused on appeal. Planned by Cala Management Ltd. Endorsed by 2000 Glasgow and Clyde Valley Structure Plan.
Innis Downs A30 Innis Downs (south-west corner) 2007 2008 Refused. Planned by Land Planning Group.
Northern Ireland A1 (NI) at Bernish 2009 2011 Withdrawn. Planned by Lavelle & McAlinden Ltd. Called itself a "motorway" site, as is common in Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland A1 (NI) at Newry (south-east corner) 2016 2019 Approved. Planned by Maxol. Leaves space for new link road.
Morpeth A1 at St Leonard's (east side) 2016 ongoing Approved. Planned by EG Group.
Launceston A30 (Kennards House south-east corner) 2019 ongoing Planned by Kivells Ltd.
Fife M90 J4 (south-west corner) 2020 2021 Withdrawn. With only 3 long vehicle spaces and limited catering, it was unlikely to ever qualify as an MSA, but is still worth noting because there aren't (at the moment) many failed unsigned services at motorway junctions.
Kelty (Kathellan Home Farm) M90 J4 (south-west corner) 2020 2022 Refused. Basically just a McDonald's and a petrol station - with 3 HGV spaces it's unlikely to qualify as an MSA, but described as one, and Scotland does have a loose definition of the term. Planned by TG Convenience Stores Ltd, rejected as an unjustified development.
Laurencekirk A90 (A937 north-west corner) 2020 ongoing Approved. To be integrated into new flyover junction.
Hickling A46 Widmerpool Interchange (south side) 2022 ongoing Approved. Planned by Welcome Break.
Preston M55 J2 2023 ongoing Planned by Moto.
Stretton Court M69 J1 2023 ongoing Planned by Welcome Break on land which already had planning permission for a local service area.
Meaford, Stone A34 Meaford View northbound 2024 ongoing A local project, but it's being sold everywhere as a 'motorway-style' site. Drive thru restaurant and 16 electric vehicle charging points, a picnic area; will be controversial because it's green belt land.
Newtownabbey A8 (NI) 2024 ongoing Pair of petrol stations with slip roads planned for Ballynure Road. Very rare for sites like this to be built as a pair these days. Not clear if they will open as an official service area, especially as Northern Ireland is quite relaxed about this.

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