Thursday, April 17, 2014

News: Rotherham raises objections to planned M1 service station

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Rotherham Council is raising objections to the proposed new £36m Motorway Services Area (MSA) at Junction 35 of the M1 in Sheffield.

Developer and operator, Extra MSA Group, has submitted plans for a new development on semi-mature woodland in the Green Belt at Smithy Wood, Cowley Hill just over the Rotherham border on the Chapeltown side of the motorway.

The plans include 33,000 sq ft of food court, ancillary retail and other customer facilities in addition to a 16 filling positions on the main forecourt and four filling positions on the HGV forecourt with forecourt shop, 639 parking spaces for cars, HGVs, coaches, caravans and motorcycles and an 80 bedroom hotel.

The development is expected to create around 400 construction jobs, with the Extra's MSAs typically employing between 250-300 full-time equivalent staff including part-time opportunities.

The applicants are also proposing to include the creation of a new 39 acre woodland with 60,000 new trees which will be open to the public for recreational use. Additionally, 172 acres of privately owned woodland will be opened to the public for community use.

Rotherham Council has been asked for its views given the close proximity of the site to the borough. In its response, the council stated that the proposal is unlikely to have a material adverse impact on highways in the Rotherham area but the reduction of ancient woodland should be considered to have an adverse impact on the integrity of the wider woodlands, including that within the Rotherham borough.

The issue of visual impact of the woodland clearing on views out of the borough from the Thorpe Hesley, Kimberworth and Wentworth area is also being raised.

A report to the planning board at Rotherham Council, stated: "It is not considered that sufficient effort has been given to the ability to avoid adverse impact or to provide suitable mitigation within the development site. It is strongly recommended that further consideration is given to avoiding adverse impact by the identification of an alternative location.

"It is not considered that the development proposals demonstrate a need for the development at this location that outweighs the loss of ancient woodland, priority habitat and non-statutory site interests. As such, the proposal is contrary to national and local planning policy in respect of biodiversity."

A number of potential sites for a service area on the busy stretch of the M1 have been studied. These include sites in Rotherham such as land at J33 which has extant planning permission for a five storey 200 bedroom hotel and 350 parking spaces, landscaping and access road, with travel lodge, diner / restaurant and petrol filling station. The site was discounted due to concerns over whether the extant plans are deliverable.

Land south-west of J35 was also discounted due to the close proximity to existing and potential residential development in Thorpe Hesley.

Sue Manns, director of Pegasus Group who prepared the application for Extra, said: "An exhaustive amount of research, analysis and impact assessments have to be undertaken to arrive at the planning submission stage and our extensive work has identified that the proposed site is the only viable option for the creation of the new MSA, for which a clear need has been determined.

"The designs demonstrate the level of attention that has been paid to ensuring that the MSA blends as seamlessly into its surroundings as possible and reflects the high level of commitment by Extra to creating a development of excellence that will positively contribute to the local economy as well as ensuring the safety of drivers on this popular stretch of motorway."

Extra Services website

Images: Extra / Pegasus Group

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