£2 million habitats compensation offered for motorway services

An artist's impression of the new services at Catterick.

A controversial plan to build a motorway service area the size of 110 Olympic swimming pools across pasture land has been recommended for approval by planners, despite concerns it would have a significant impact on a designated site of special scientific interest.

Richmondshire District Council’s planning committee will on Wednesday hear motorway services operator Roadchef has offered to pay almost £2 million to create habitats elsewhere to compensate for its proposed 11.2-hectare development off junction 52 of the A1(M).

The firm wants to construct buildings featuring some 8,912 square metres of restaurant and cafe floorspace, alongside a 100-bedroom hotel, and in a first for a motorway service area, two drive-thru buildings for a coffee shop and fast food restaurant, as well a fuel filling station with convenience shop.

The firm has claimed during its operation, the proposed development, the cost of which has previously been estimated at £57 million, was expected create 227 direct full-time equivalent jobs.

The proposed 24-hour services would also include HGV overnight parking and electric vehicle charging facilities.

If the motorway service area was built, the council has suggested it would look to close its lorry park in nearby Colburn, following years of complaints from residents about antisocial behaviour there.

Both the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Natural England have raised concerns about the potential significant effects on fauna and flora in the area, such as curlew, and in particular on the nearby Swale Lakes Site of Special Scientific Interest.

To fully compensate for the loss of habitat, developers have agreed to pay almost £2 million to bolster ecosystems elsewhere.

Objectors, including other motorway services firms, have questioned the need for another fuel station and food outlets in the area, particularly following consent being granted to develop a services area near Boroughbridge and plans being lodged to upgrade services at nearby Scotch Corner.

However, the council’s planning officers have concluded a services area is needed at the junction to serve road users of the A1(M) between Durham and the approved services at the Vale of York.

In a report to the committee, they wrote: “Considerable weight can be given in such instances to meeting this need because of the safety of users of the strategic road network. There is not considered to be another proposal or site that would realistically be able to meet this need.

“The impact on nature conservation is a significant material consideration in the assessment of the application and therefore significant compensatory measures have been sought to address the impact. In this case the impact of the development would cause an adverse impact.

“The proposed development would provide new jobs and would benefit the local economy of Richmondshire without any unacceptable impacts on town centres and their vitality and viability.”

5 Comments

  1. What unbelievable stupidity. The so called ‘need’ for this development has been manufactured. If this company has so much money, they and other developers who can afford to ‘develop’ should be made to donate the full development cost, £57,000,000 in this case to replace destroyed nature and environmental damage caused by unnecessary developments throughout Richmondshire. No cost at all can be placed on destroying the environment. Just don’t destroy it in the first place.
    When will things start to improve as far as climate change and the environment are concerned? If RDC is not going to take responsibility, then who in our society of administrators will have the responsibility to do so?
    A bribe of 2million pounds cannot compensate for the damage caused by any development that is obviously unnecessary in the first place.
    RDC must be in a race to pass any development no matter what the impact on the environment, before they are quite rightly brought kicking and screaming into the new North Yorkshire administration.
    Hopefully by next year, climate change and the environment will finally take precedence, and the electorate will have better balanced representation from their elected officials.

  2. 5 miles from Scotch Corner & 7 miles from Leeming Bar services – and there’s no alternative ?

    What have Richmondshire District Council got against greenfield sites that they approve such unneccessary developments ? Do they get a share of the £2m compensation perhaps ?

  3. RDC planners say the project is justified on Health & Safety grounds which have weighed considerably on their decision to approve. The plan itself quotes that encouraging drivers to take breaks of at least 15 minutes helps reduce accidents – road safely is a core function of service stations.

    Why then, has permission being granted for two drive-through fast-food joints, which will do the exact opposite of encouraging drivers to take a proper break of at least 15 minutes?

    Can we have some joined-up honesty please?

  4. I wouldn’t invest in this development given there are other services only a short distance away at Scotch Corner and Leeming. There is insufficient business to support all of them.

  5. 2 million pound back hander for the pockets of a council that is about to become defunct….it obvious nobody needs this extra service station,so dont play the its for safety reasons,we can see its not.The sooner RDC become NYCC the better for all people the the Richmondshire area.

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