Colne Valley is an unusual project resulting from a partnership between Welcome Break and Buckinghamshire County Council.
In February 2020, it was revealed that the two were in discussions about Welcome Break leasing the land, which would raise some money for the council and provide Welcome Break an opportunity to open a new site.
As a result, Welcome Break has drawn up a detailed plan for Colne Valley services. The site would have a high capacity, with a main amenity building, hotel, dedicated HGV drivers amenity building, two drive thru outlets and a large petrol station. To keep the flow high, a consistent two lanes would be provided from the M25 to the car parking spaces.
The main building would be covered mostly with solar panels, with a few remaining sections having a grass roof. 100 electric vehicle charging points would be provided in the 1,300 space car park, alongside 200 HGV parking spaces. The HGV amenity building would include a gym, and would likely be promoted as a truckstop.
The site would be connected to the M25 via a new interchange, with the M25 itself being widened to improve the access to the M40. Due to the constrained nature of the site, a second flyover would be used to safely untangle the slip roads - it's rare for a service area access to be so elaborate. Additionally, a rear access to Slough Road would also be provided for staff use only, with a turning circle to send unauthorised vehicles back.
400 jobs are expected to be created. Construction is expected to take 16 months. The council added that a large tree planting programme should make the project "carbon negative", and that the woodland around the site boundary would be protected from development.
A formal request for planning permission was lodged with South Bucks District Council in January 2021. Considerable local outrage has built up, as residents feel there are a number of infrastructure projects in the Colne Valley area.
See also: M25 Planning Applications
The M25 through here has a long history of failed service area proposals dating back to before the road was built. These included the Department of Transport's original insistence that a service area be built at Iver, and more recent private proposals at Elk Meadows and Woodlands Park - only a few hundred metres from this site.
Technically, there is no reason why all three couldn't be built, but the planning authorities are likely to rule that only one would be necessary. The involvement of Buckinghamshire County Council implies that the Colne Valley proposal wouldn't have any objections from them.
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