MSA Policy

Department for Transport Circular 01/2008 (Policy on Service Areas and Other Roadside Facilities on Motorways and All Purpose Trunk Roads in England) regulates, as its name suggests, various aspects of motorway services, rest areas, TRSAs, truckstops, lay-bys and local facilities in England, superseding all previous policies. Details on this and the previous ones can be found below:


Circular 01/2008 Review

On the 6th April 2010 a public consultation was launched regarding a review of Circular 01/2008 (see below). The main changes are:

The revised document is available from the Department for Transport.

In 2011, as part of a nationwide review of all traffic signs, some changes to the way services are signed were suggested, with brand logos being permitted on Diagram 2919.1 signs.

Circular 01/2008

Circular 01/2008, the current policy, can viewed be online. It was published in April 2008 after a Highways Agency consultation in 2007 and affected all planning applications created after the 2nd April. It was the first joint-policy for all roadside facilities, previously these had all been dealt with in separate documents and many aspects went unregulated.

The main changes were:

The document also included a series of formulas for deciding the number of parking spaces and toilets a service area needs. We have reproduced this in an interactive format.

Review of Strategic Road Network Service Areas

Circular 01/2008 established that the Highways Agency should have a greater role in the development of new service areas, so in February 2010 the Highways Agency published a review of the locations of services on motorways and suggested routes where new services should be developed, namely the A1 in North Yorkshire, M42 east of Birmingham, the western section of the M25 and the M5 in Gloucestershire.

It also looked at TRSA locations and suggested upgrading many sites.

MSA Policy Statement

Because Circular 01/94 (see below) was created as part of large changes to the MSA development process, in July 1998 the MSA Policy Statement attempted to address some issues which had been discovered after that was created. A copy of it is hosted on Motorway Services Online.

The notable points were that:

Roads Circular 01/94

Roads Circular 01/94 was created in May 1994. It applies to services in England and Wales and a copy of it is hosted on Motorway Services Online.

In general it just reiterated what was in Circular 23/92, but a couple of the extra point were:

Circular 23/92

Roads Circular 23/92 was created in August 1992 to facilitate the changes to the development process of an MSA, whereby it was now up to the developer to find a suitable site instead of the government. The aim was to see more, smaller services providing a range of facilities. A copy of it is hosted on Motorway Services Online.

It wasn't meant to restrict what services could do, but instead established the main points:

Circular Roads 4/88

Circular Roads 4/88 was the predecessor to 01/94. It was published in November 1988 and a copy of it is hosted on Motorway Services Online.

Between this and Roads Circular 01/94, the biggest change is that roads were under more direct government regulation, which meant that many issues didn't need to be addressed. The sale of alcohol, for example, isn't mentioned as this was covered by the licensing act. Other matters, such as the distance between services, were left to the DfT to decide on a case-by-case basis.

This circular therefore dealt mostly with what can and cannot be accessed from a motorway or trunk road. To put it simply, only service areas and junctions can have direct access from the network, with a few exceptions on urban trunk roads.

The network of services was described as "key sites with substantial diversification" rather than a network of frequent, smaller services. A policy of not allowing services which forces traffic to turn right across dual carriageways was also established.

As an aside, the document also talks about trunk roads which are "being built to near motorway standards", something that became really prevalent in the early 2000s.

Prior to this policy, the Highway General Division (1959-1969) and the Motorway Service Area Management Group/MSAB - Board (1969-1988) were responsible for ensuring service areas acted responsibly.


SPP 17 and PAN 75

Both of these documents were published in August 2005 following a reorganisation of transport-related documents. The two documents dealt with a whole range of transport issues as well as services, and can be viewed online - SPP 17, PAN 75. Most of it was the same as NPPG9, with the main exceptions being:


NPPG9 (full title The Provision of Roadside Facilities on Motorways and Other Trunk Roads in Scotland) was published in October 1998 and can be viewed online. The document was very similar to England's Roads Circular 01/94, the main differences being:

Wales and Northern Ireland

Wales has always relied on developer's proposals for motorway services. Northern Ireland is the same, although they were mostly reluctant to embrace them.

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