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Birchanger Green services

Birchanger Green
Welcome Break
Facilities | Rating | ReviewsBirchanger Green services
Road:M11 at J8
(also accessible to traffic on the A120 and the B1256)

Address:Birchanger Green Service Station
Dunmow Road
Bishop's Stortford
CM23 5QZ
Telephone number:01279 653388
Signposted from the road?Yes
Grid reference:TL512215
Services type:Single site located at a junction.
Visit Birchanger Green/Welcome Break's official website
Facebook Page
Twitter: @BirchangerGreen

A single service area located at a busy junction at the exit for Stansted Airport.


Catering: Burger King, Chopstix Noodle Bar, Harry Ramsden's, KFC, Starbucks, Subway, Tossed, Costa Express, Krispy Kreme, West Cornwall Pasty Co., Yorkshire Tea, Starbucks Drive Thru Shops: Fone Bitz, Waitrose, WHSmith Main Amenities: Ecotricity electric vehicle charging point, Picnic Area, Showers, Tesla Supercharger, Welcome Break Gaming Motel: Days Innbook/Ramadabook Forecourt: Shell (with: Autogas LPG), Deli2go, Costa Express, Krispy Kreme, Yorkshire Tea, Air1 AdBlue

Parking Prices

First two hours free for all vehicles, after which HGVs, caravans and coaches must pay £29, or £32 to include a £9 meal voucher.

Prices can be paid in the shop with instructions in each car park. They are strictly enforced by ParkingEye.

Trivia & History

The services have a small birdwatching site. They are treated by many as an additional airport facility, as Birchanger offers two hours free parking compared to the steep parking charges within Stansted.

When you drive in, the petrol facilities are offered before you reach the amenity building. Normally it's the other way round, meaning these services can be confusing as the car park is the very last option you get.

There is a new rival service area just a mile away on the A120, known as Stansted services, which is actually a group of facilities aimed at airport drop-off traffic which doesn't want to use the airport amenities. Consequently, Birchanger is signed to A120 traffic as if it were a tourist attraction. Traffic joining from Stansted Business Park gets signs for both services.


The M11 was originally set to have services at Chigwell and Newport. With low traffic levels and frequently changing plans for the surrounding motorway network, it was difficult to raise enough interest for them.

Services at Birchanger (sometimes called Bishop's Stortford) were first mentioned in 1981, in both the south-west and south-east corner of the junction. Trusthouse Forte said they had won a contract to build the services in 1986, implying the Department for Transport had changed their position and started placing services at this busy junction.

This is at odds with the planning documents, which show Mobil bought the land here, and that planning permission for a service area was rejected several times until 1990. By this point, private developers were able to choose their own locations for services. Both are probably true.

It's still the only services on the M11, despite plans at Duxford. The site is 28 acres.


The refurbished food court

The building is shaped as a triangle, with an airy corridor along one side and a small seating area taking up the rest of the space. The large glass front is typical of services of this age.

The food and shops appear in almost no order as units have moved around, but a large Waitrose (partly a former Red Hen) unit currently flanks the main corridor.

Although the interior of the services has been refurbished several times, the entrance doors are still in original Welcome Break blue.

Traffic Problems

Throughout the late '90s Birchanger Green's junction was heavily congested until major improvement works saw a new junction, J8a, constructed within the existing one to get traffic in and out of Stansted Airport much quicker. It is still a complicated junction, particularly for southbound traffic.

In 2010, Welcome Break complained that the new layout made it difficult for traffic to exit the services, creating long queues in the process, and offered to pay to have the majority of services traffic directed to the A120, where it could then join the roundabout with the M11. Their plans were rejected.

The problems with this junction makes it odd that the Department for Transport endorsed building services here in the 1980s. They must not have foreseen the growth of Stansted.


When it opened it had a Cafe Primo, which claimed to be the motorway network's first coffee bar. With palm trees and marble tables, it claimed to be an imitation of an Italian coffee bar.

During 2006 a Sainsbury's store was trialled here, but it was removed as it only had a licence for 6 months and hadn't been much of a success. Before opening the store, Welcome Break had to do a lot of negotiating with the Highways Agency who were concerned that the store would lead to local people using the services, making it a destination in its own right. Welcome Break kept using Moto's connection with M&S as a reason for them to open up the store.

The motel at Birchanger was cheaper than Stansted's on-site one, and for that reason it was endorsed by several travel advice websites. A 77-bedroom "Days Hotel" was recently added alongside the existing 60-bedroom one as part of a £3m development. These were later re-branded to Ramada.

There are actually two large Starbucks coffee shops here, one being a former restaurant.

Tossed opened here in May 2014 - the first at a motorway service area.

Chopstix Noodle Bar opened in August 2016 - the first at a Welcome Break service area.

Survey Results

Use with care. Outdated surveys have been included for interest only.

In 2015 and May 2012 Visit England rated the services as 4 stars. In August 2011, they gave it 3 stars.

In 2008 the services won a five star loo award.

In 2006 and again in 2007, the petrol station's toilets were given a three-star loo award. The services themselves were rated four-star.

In 2005 the services won a five star loo award.


none on M11
South Mimms (M25 west, 29 miles)
Thurrock (M25 east, 30 miles)
Services on the M11 none on M11
Cambridge (A14, 32 miles)
none on M11
South Mimms (M25 west, 29 miles)
Welcome Break services none nearby

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