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Warren Farm

Warren Farm

Road: M25 between J16 and J17
Location: Gerrards Cross, Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire
Other names: Chalfont St Peter
Developer: Extra
Grid reference: TQ018900 (SABRE Maps)

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Warren Farm site layout.
The planned road and site layout.

Warren Farm was a new service area proposed by Extra. It was to be built on the M25 near J16 and J17, near Chalfont St Peter.

Facilities were to be provided to the west of the motorway, with a tied arch bridge and new looped junction providing access to both sides. 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 had 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. The hotel would have had a dedicated restaurant area. As is common with Extra services, no brands had been named, as it 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 petrol station 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.

Local action group SENSE4CSP outlined a number of objections to the proposal, stating that there was no proven need for the development, and that its location was unsuitable. One complainant told the local newspaper that although she realised there were no plans to connect the service area to the local road network, she worried this would happen anyway and that it would create congestion.

Thames Valley Police raised a more credible objection, explaining that the nearby service area at Beaconsfield creates a lot of work for them, and that they would expect this proposal to be similar. The problems at Beaconsfield appear to be exacerbated by the clientele the choice of brands attracts, as well as the easy access to an urban area.

In justifying the scheme, Extra stated that there was a "significant public safety need" to address driver tiredness. Buckinghamshire County Council agreed that the region does not have enough HGV parking spaces.

The plan was later revised to include access to Denham Lane, although this won't be connected to the main site. 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 proposal on the grounds that it would be inappropriate in the green belt. By this point a public inquiry was already required, and this ruled against the proposal in November 2021.

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 so far two of them have been refused.

History

See also: M25 Planning Applications

This 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 is to allow construction vehicles direct access to the High Speed 2 railway construction site. They claim the slip roads (which are very well-aligned) will 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, which would be very similar to Cobham.

Extra's plan (which they call Warren Farm) would not 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. That application was still outstanding in April 2021, so Extra appealed the inaction, triggering a public inquiry for that summer.

The inquiry ruled against the proposal in November 2021. Service areas on the M25 are only ever built after long and complicated processes, so it isn't necessarily over yet.

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