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Rotherham services

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Road:M1 at J33
(also accessible to traffic on the A630)

(open map)
Address:Land at Junction 33, M1 Motorway
Services type:Single site located at a junction

⚠️ Please note that this service area is not yet open.

This is the proposed services where the M1 meets the A630. For the existing site on the A57, see Parkway.

Two rival service station plans in South Yorkshire came to a head in 2019, and resulted in outline planning permission being granted for a new motorway service area on the M1 near Rotherham.

The approved Rotherham plan was put forward by Applegreen. They have since passed all motorway service area proposals to Welcome Break, who already own nearby Woodall. Although Applegreen had been promoting it as Rotherham & Sheffield Gateway, internal Welcome Break documents stick to the more conventional name Rotherham services.

The detailed plans were formally approved by Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council in November 2021, with work starting in summer 2023. The site is expected to open in 2025.

Trivia and Design

Rotherham services site layout.
The planned road and site layout.

The scheme has a very unusual layout with the HGV parking and amenities positioned to the north of M1 J33. Customer parking and amenities for other motorway users is located to the south of the M1, connected via the existing road tunnel.

The main building would be very visible from the M1; a glass structure wrapped in timber cladding, with the cladding having been added to bring it more in line with Welcome Break's styling. Inside there would be a shop, game arcade and four food outlets along the back wall, with the toilets behind them. In front of them would be the seating and circulation area, with a further three food outlets. There would also be stairs to the mezzanine level, which would have two conference rooms and a remote working hub.

Unusually for an Applegreen-inspired project, the forecourt would be positioned at the other end of the car park. This is a significant deviation from the original plan, which had the forecourt attached to the main building, which had parking all around it. There is now also space identified for a Starbucks drive thru, which is being pursued separately. A narrow link road would provide emergency access between the M1 roundabout and the main amenity building.

The separate HGV drivers' amenity building would contain separate units for a food offer, a coffee shop, a retail store and a game arcade. This unusual layout with the site split around the motorway allows the traffic flow to be split across two roads, operating anti-clockwise around the junction. This means there is no need to turn right across the busy A630. It also reduces the impact on the environment by nestling into a tighter space. The down-side is that no matter whether you are heading north or south along the M1, at some point you would need to turn right around a large section of the busy roundabout.

In total 498 car parking spaces would be provided, including 30 disabled, as well as space for 19 motorbikes, 67 lorries, 15 coaches and 18 caravans (as of 2017). 13 spaces have been identified for electric vehicle charging, although that is subject to change as the demand keeps moving forward. Additional car parking spaces would be provided next to the HGV building. 300 jobs would be created as part of the project.

The Applegreen plan had the advantage that it was designed under newer regulations, which were much more relaxed about what a motorway service area could offer. However, Applegreen still had to overcome the issue of access to the site, which had proven to be a stumbling block for many of their proposals.

Planning History

See also: M1 Planning Applications

The land here had previously held planning permission for use as two hotels, a pub-restaurant and a petrol station. With more development opening up in this area, it seemed inevitable that the land would be converted to retail use at some point.

Applegreen went public with their proposal in March 2017. This was one of many they made to try to break into the UK motorway service area market, before acquiring Welcome Break. Under the original assessment, Welcome Break's nearby Woodall services would have been a competitor.

Extra objected to the Applegreen plan, as did the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce.

In November 2019, the Applegreen Rotherham plan was approved. Rotherham Borough Council were thought to have been won over by the proposed junction improvements, despite some objectors arguing that it would divert investment away from other areas. The reserved matters application was submitted to the authority in June 2021.

Extra Smithy Wood Plan

The approved Applegreen proposal was an effort to overtake a controversial project from Extra.

Extra wanted to build a large service area in the south-west corner of M1 J35, Smithy Wood. Their rekindled enthusiasm for building new services comes following a period of quiet stability, which they needed to recover from the financial uncertainty caused by poor turnover at Derby with Burton and Leicester North and the high investment placed into Beaconsfield and Cobham.

In March 2014, planning permission was granted to Extra by Sheffield City Council. However in November 2014, the plans were put on hold following protests about the 12th century Smithy Wood which would be destroyed by the plans.

Extra maintained that they had studied the area, and that their proposal was the only suitable place where a new motorway service area could be built. This claim was called into question by Applegreen's proposal, made in March 2017. The following September, Extra requested Applegreen's plan be decided upon first, suggesting if Applegreen's plan was approved then Extra would drop theirs.

Under the current regulations, there is no reason why both service areas couldn't be built, but the two operators might not want to be competing with each other. In addition, the planning authorities might not want two motorway service areas to be built, which is made more complicated by the fact the two junctions fall under different jurisdictions.

Applegreen's plan was approved in November 2019. Pressure from the Woodland Trust on Extra rose, and in January 2020 Extra confirmed that they were withdrawing their proposal.

Previous Services

Hesley services was a joint proposal by Extra (forecourt) and Roadchef (services) in the south-east quadrant of J35 of the M1.

It was rejected because the land was a green belt area, the council felt that insufficient information had been provided and that a new service area wasn't needed.

The Smithy Wood plan was close to the planned site of Chapeltown services, north of J35, which was cancelled in the 1960s.


Woodall (14 miles)Services on the M1Woolley Edge (12 miles)
Parkway (4 miles)Services on the A630none

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