The safe and efficient operation of the Motorway Network is essential to the Region’s economic growth. Government Policy is for Motorway Service Areas to be less than 30 minutes’ drive time and no more than 28 miles apart on the Motorway Network. An assessment of the region has shown that a significant part of the Network is, therefore, ‘road safety’ deficient.
As such, there is an immediate ‘need’ for an MSA on the section of the Motorway Network between the existing MSAs. Warrington MSA J11 M62 is ideally optimally placed to reduce existing gaps and thereby will fully satisfy this ‘need’ and significantly improve road safety within this section of the Motorway Network, helping to reduce fatigue-related accidents and supporting economic growth. Highways England has also identified that there is a need for a new MSA on this part of the UK’s Strategic Road Network and have confirmed in June 2019 no objections to our proposals on the grounds of spacing.
The detailed Need and Alternative Sites Assessment has shown that there are no non-Green Belt sites to meet the public safety need. Any new MSA would therefore have to be within the Green Belt.
In planning policy terms, the proposed development would constitute inappropriate development and therefore very special circumstances will need to be demonstrated. Previous appeal decisions have established that the safety need for an MSA and lack of alternative sites outside of the Green Belt can constitute very special circumstances.
The Alternative Sites Assessment, which accompanies this application, includes a Green Belt assessment which assesses this Site and the alternative sites against the five purposes of the Green Belt and the Planning Statement sets out in detail the justification for development in the Green Belt and clearly demonstrate the very special circumstances that apply in this case.
Circular 02/2013 sets out the minimum requirements that MSA developments have to meet in order to be eligible for signing from the strategic road network. This has informed the site size as well as the need to include sufficient land for a meaningful landscaping scheme to be delivered.
An iterative, evidence-based approach has been adopted to guide the sitting of the proposed development to retain woodland ridgelines and minimise the impact on views from the surrounding area, particularly views across from Pestfurlong Hill. The design of the proposed development has been considered to reflect the characteristic valley features as far as possible. A Landscaping Strategy has been produced to integrate the proposed development and enhance the surrounding landscape, including additional tree planting and the reintroduction of former hedgerow field boundaries on the surrounding land.
The delivery of flagship MSA facilities in a pleasant landscaped setting will have a positive impact upon the physical appearance of the Site. The MSA will be compatible with adjacent land uses and will address all of the environmental and physical constraints on the Site to bring forward a high quality and appropriate development.
The primary function of an MSA is to support the safety and welfare of the travelling public – including HGV drivers – on the Motorway Network. HGV parking provision at MSAs is a mandatory requirement of Circular 02/2013 and hence part of the Proposed Development.
HGV movements associated with the construction phase will be subject to a Construction Environmental Management Plan which will incorporate a Routing Agreement signed and enforced by the Local Highway Authority.
MSAs are not destinations in their own right; they are there to meet the needs of users of the Motorway Network. Primary signage will therefore be from the Motorway Network.
The £75m proposals will deliver 228 FTE employment opportunities once the MSA is fully operational, in addition to the 75 FTE jobs that are supported through the supply chain. In addition, during the construction phase, there will be 300 flexible jobs, including temporary short-term, permanent, full and part-time contracts. Apprentice Schemes will also be developed in partnership with the region’s Colleges and training providers. We are also talking to local job agencies in Warrington about how we can maximise opportunities for local people.
Our assessment to identify the best site on this section of the Strategic Road Network has shown that Junction 11 on the M62 meets the public safety need in a deliverable location. The primary function of roadside services should be to support the safety and welfare of the road users. MSAs do not generate new vehicular trips, other than those generated by staff and servicing, but serve trips already on the Strategic Road Network.
There is currently significant construction work ongoing to widen Birchwood Way to provide greater capacity for the local business park and local residents. Our proposals will provide greater capacity on the junction to accommodate the MSA traffic to ensure that there is no net impact from the MSA on the local road network.
The MSA will only be accessible from Junction 11 of the M62 and whilst there is an existing connection on Birchwood Way, due to its close proximity the construction traffic would access the Site via the Strategic Road Network rather than neighbouring areas. Circular 02/2013 is clear that, in general, MSAs should not be destinations in their own right and therefore providing local vehicular access is discouraged. The Proposed Development includes various footpath and cycle links which would enable employees and local people to access the MSA via these routes. In addition, the Travel Plan sets out further information on provision for staff travel which could include a bespoke staff minibus service which would reflect shift patterns specifically for MSA employees.
It was noted that improvements to footpaths and cycle links were seen as a potential benefit of the Proposed Development. It is proposed to signalise M62 Junction 11. As part of the proposed signalisation scheme, pedestrian improvements are proposed to provide controlled pedestrian crossings and enhanced footways.
In addition to the above controlled crossings, the existing footway on the overbridge is proposed to be extended northwards, to provide a footway connection from the site to the existing walking and cycling network to the south of the M62 Motorway.
It is further accepted by the Applicant that contributions will be required for improvements to the Public Rights of Way network to the north of the M62 Motorway, connecting the Site to Culcheth. The same applies to improvements to existing pedestrian links along Silver Lane south of the M62 Motorway and/or links that run adjacent to Birchwood Way to the south of the M62. Extra also proposes to operate a bespoke staff minibus service between the Site and Birchwood Station.
Further measures to encourage cycling to/from the Site are included in the Staff Travel Plan which accompanies the planning application. These include provision of secure cycle paring on the Site, participation in the Cycle2Work scheme, implementation of a Bicycle User Group, support for the Bikeright! cycle training scheme and provision of lights, helmets and hi visibility bibs to staff who commit to cycling to work.
Extra MSA has been in the process of undertaking a ‘scoping exercise’ to fully examine the feasibility of this site within the Borough of Warrington. As part of this process, Extra MSA made a Scoping submission to Warrington BC and undertook an initial dialogue with Officers, Elected Local Councillors and other interested parties to gauge their views on the principle of this new MSA development.
Our project team have met and engaged with a number of members of the Borough and Parish councils, as well as the local MP. We have also held 3 public consultations in locations in the local community, which were attended by c.300 members of the community. These events allowed local residents to engage with us, talk through their concerns, ask questions and view the proposals. We also encouraged members of the public to fill out feedback forms, an or online consultation was open for 4 weeks, so residents had a number of channels to share their feedback with us to help shape our proposals.
Extra MSA will continue to work with local residents and Stakeholders, with a view to delivering significant benefits to businesses and the local community, providing a major contribution towards the long-term future economic growth of Warrington and the wider region.
Extra’s unique ‘new concept’ style Service Area facilities pride themselves on having a wide range of popular Food and Ancillary Retail outlets. Warrington MSA J11 M62 could include popular stores and retail outlets such as: Leon, Pizza Express, Greggs, Starbucks Coffee, Burger King, McDonalds, WH Smith and many more.
By law, all motorway services must be open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, providing parking, fuel, hot drinks and food.
The submitted Environmental Statement (ES) assesses the impact of the Proposed Development on noise, air quality and lighting and demonstrates that in all cases that the impact of the development is acceptable. The ES contains relevant mitigation measures where these are required.
The Government is committed to ensuring that all vehicles sold after 2040 are powered by alternative fuels. This means that over the next 20 years a network of recharging stations needs to be put in place across the Country. Highways England is seeking to ensure a national network of plug-in EV charging points is available every 20 miles on the Motorway Network.
As well as the economic benefits, including £75m inward investment in the regional economy and £1 million per annum in Business Rate Revenue, a comprehensive community benefits package has been submitted with this application. This includes sustainable transport methods around the Proposed Development including for pedestrians and cyclists, employment opportunities for local people and improving existing Public Rights of Way network.
Extra are eager to explore and prioritise employment opportunities principally for local people. An Employment Strategy has been submitted with this application which sets out the procedures that will be put in place to prioritise job opportunities for local people.
Extra MSA Group is one of the UK’s leading investors, owners and operators of MSAs. We have a ‘new concept’ approach to MSAs that focuses on world-class design, incorporating a good quality and popular range of complementary Ancillary Food, Retail, Business, Leisure and community facilities, within a bright, spacious and comfortable building, set in an attractive and relaxing environment to meet modern day customer requirements.
Our service stations offer a substantial range of choice in a comfortable, modern environment alongside popular brands including McDonald’s, Costa Coffee, Starbucks, Nando’s, Ibis and Shell.