Controversial plans for a £57m motorway service area (MSA) at the Catterick junction of A1(M) are set to be approved.
After several years of negotiations, planning officers at Richmondshire District Council are recommending the proposals from Roadchef are given the go-ahead.
The council’s planning committee will meet at a specially convened meeting at Catterick Racecourse next Wednesday to decide on the plans after a decision on the scheme was postponed last year.
The scheme includes 8,912sq metres of restaurant and cafe floorspace, a 100-bedroom hotel, Costa and McDonalds drive-thru cafes, a fuel filling station, HGV overnight parking and a 24-hour two-storey amenity building.
The applicants claim the services will create more than 200 full-time jobs.
However, the scheme has also raised concerns from a number of organisations, including Richmondshire Climate Action Partnership, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Natural England.
Roadchef’s blueprints indicate the building would have a planted green roof and a large external terrace cantilevered over a lake, while a concrete monolith structure would be created in another lake.
Following concerns over the development’s impact on the site, which includes the designated Pallet Hill Site of Importance Nature Conservation, the nearby Swale Lakes Site of Special Scientific Interest (SINC) and birds ranging from oystercatchers to lapwings, Roadchef has agreed to give the council £870,000 to create habitats elsewhere.
Rival firm Moto has also objected, stating its Barton and Leeming Bar sites already have planning permission for the redevelopment into a full MSAs, while its Scotch Corner rest area also operates as a Trunk Road Service Area.
But a report for councillors ahead of next week’s meeting concludes that the scheme be approved.
It states: “This report has demonstrated that there is an identified need for a new MSA facility to serve road users of the A1(M) between Durham and the approved MSA services at the Vale of York.
“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 report adds that the services would have an adverse impact on nature conservation in the area.
It adds: “The application site is located within the Pallett Hill SINC, and in accordance with local plan policy and the NPPF, the applicant intends to both mitigate, and where not possible to do so, compensate for the harm that would be caused to the biodiversity and ecological significance of the SINC, particularly its importance for providing habitat for specific species of wading birds.”
It continues: “Following extensive negotiations with National Highways and the Highway Authority, which has included alterations to the layout of the scheme, both statutory consultees have confirmed that the proposals are acceptable in terms of their impacts on the strategic and local road networks, and the development is not considered to have any significant adverse impact on highway safety.”
A decision on the plans was due to be made last year but was delayed after the council received last minute information which they said needed to be examined.