Is it an airport? Is it a town? It's one large services catering for many roads at once.
It is located at M1 J23A but the junction has no north-facing sliproads, so traffic heading to/from the M1 north has to leave at J24 and use the parallel A453.
COVID-19 update: These details were updated on 17 February 2021, with changes caused by COVID-19.
Catering: Burger King, Costa, Greggs, Costa Express, Krispy Kreme Shops: M&S Simply Food, WHSmith Main Amenities: Changing Places, Fourex Money Exchange, NomadPower, Showers, Truck Wash, Brexit Document Advice Point, HGV Covid-19 Test Centre Hotel: Travelodge Charging Points: Ecotricity Forecourt: BP, Attended Service, Shop, Greggs, Costa Express, Air1 AdBlue, LPG (FloGas)
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Junction 23a M1
Trivia and History
Donington (commonly misspelt 'Donnington') considers itself to be the gateway to The National Forest, and at the back by the lake there are information boards and viewing platforms. Until the 2016 sign replacement, it was called Donington Park services (the same as the racing circuit, and often wrongly called 'Castle Donington').
The opening ceremony was hosted by TV presenter Charlie Dimmock in 1999.
On 25 April 2008 Greg James presented BBC Radio 1's Early Morning Breakfast Show (4-7am) live from the services.
The Highways Agency had applied to build a regional control centre here in 2004, but it was refused.
Since July 2020, Donington has been taking part in the "fuel price drop", where Moto have pledged to compete with local petrol stations. In October 2020, Moto introduced attended service to the petrol station - the first time it has been available on the motorway for many years. It is available during weekday daytime.
See also: M1 Service Area Planning
When the M1 was built, arrangements were made for a service area to be built slightly south of here. This didn't happen, but in the 1990s, commercial developers took an interest in the road.
The land at Donington was identified by Hallam Land Management, who developed the initial plans. It had to compete with two service areas proposed by Extra, to be built on the M1 south of here.
The public inquiry described the access to the proposed Donington Park services as "complicated and confusing", however the competing plans were considered to have "serious disadvantages". In particular the fact that Donington Park could also serve the A42 was seen as an advantage.
At the time, the Highways Agency was looking at replacing M1 J23A and J24 with one new interchange, which was seen as rendering the navigation argument redundant in the long term. In the short term, the roundabout at J24 was widened to handle the additional traffic. In addition, the route between J23A and J24 was totally undeveloped at the time, so it was seen as an easy drive.
The Eastern Site
In 1989, before the A42 or Finger Farm Roundabout had been built, East Midlands Airport planned a much smaller service area here. It would have had a petrol station close to the new roundabout, HGV parking in the middle, and a small restaurant building behind this.
Planning permission was granted. Just before the permission was about to expire in 1995, the Airport carried out some minor work to the drainage here. There are differing reports on why they couldn't continue. When they finally did get back to work on it in 2004 (after the main Donington Park services had already opened), North West Leicestershire District Council disputed their version of events and argued that permission had expired.
An application to continue the development was refused in 2004, and again in 2009, with an appeal and public inquiry held in 2011. The parish councils and Moto objected to these applications, while the Highways Agency advised that the land was likely to be needed for a planned road upgrade. Permission was granted but not used. Curiously, that permission called it a "motorway service area", even though Circular 01/2008 wouldn't have allowed one MSA to be built opposite an existing one.
The land was sold and is now thought to be the planned site of offices.
The initial plan for the service area showed a smaller building, with a visitor centre at the front, and a separate lodge.
The service area was the first to be built with a design compared to that of an airport terminal which, albeit slightly modified, is a concept still used by new service areas today. It was billed by Granada as "a village by the roadside", aiming to reflect the wide range of facilities which would appeal to commuters.
It's one of the only service stations where a hotel is thoroughly built-in to the main building: some have access to the motel through the building, but few have the motel as a second storey. This design takes advantage of the fact few services had a hotel franchise from new, in doing so reducing the impact the construction had on the local environment.
When it first opened the forecourt had a Sketchley dry cleaning and a photo development service, allowing commuters to stop by on the way to and from work, joined by a rare example of a Moto Fresh Express café in a forecourt.
The services were the first site to gain a Marks and Spencer store - at its time it was the smallest of their stores in the world, but it was then extended and re-branded to M&S Simply Food. It was built where the Burger King was, and the Burger King was moved further back. A WHSmith store also opened here, replacing Birthdays and the Moto Shop.
On 21 May 2013, a franchised Harvester opened here on a trial basis. If it was successful, Moto planned to roll out Harvester across their network to replace Eat & Drink Co. . It soon turned out this wasn’t the case when Moto introduced their own brand Arlo's. Following the closure of the restaurant during the COVID-19 pandemic in Spring 2020, Harvester decided to permanently close the restaurant.
This site is home to one of Moto's first internal West Cornwall Pasty Co units.
In June 2017, planning permission was granted for a Costa Drive Thru to be built at the back of the existing car park. The plan included indoor and outdoor seating as well as a separate car park with 44 spaces. However, in December 2018 these plans were superseded and a second set of plans were granted permission. These plans proposed to build a drive-thru kiosk and associated drive-thru lane only at the back of the car park. Then, in March 2019, a third set of plans were granted permission. This time the plans were for a drive-thru kiosk and lane only similar to the second plans however the new plans position the drive-thru adjacent to the exit lane of the services meaning customers will need to loop around the roundabout and head towards the exit to use the drive-thru. The third set is expected to be the preferred plan and position.
|Leicester Forest East (16 miles)||Services on the M1||Trowell (11 miles)|
|Appleby Magna (15 miles)||Services on the A42||end of road|
|Tamworth (M42, 21 miles)||Moto services||Trowell (11 miles)|
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