The proposed Kirby Hill services has been a recurring feature of many planning inquiries relating to possible new service areas on the A1(M) in North Yorkshire. It is currently being promoted by Applegreen, who own the Welcome Break brand, and they have been using the name Vale of York services.
Applegreen are proposing an amenity building in the south-west corner of the site, which would be connected to the A1(M) by two roundabouts and a flyover, allowing access in both directions. The A168 would be diverted onto a new course to the east.
The masterplan name-checks Gloucester services as its inspiration. A large green roof would be provided over all the buildings. The main building would cover two storeys, and there would also be a drive thru coffee shop as well as parking for 364 cars, 90 HGVs, 20 motorcycles, 18 coaches and 13 caravans.
On 19 November 2019, a decision was made. Planning officers recommended approval, but Harrogate Borough Council's Planning Committee voted 10-0 against. The reasons for rejection were that the scheme was contrary to the Local Plan; it represented an unjustified encroachment into the open countryside; it was not sustainable development and it would harm the local environment and the economy of the nearby market town of Boroughbridge, which is accessible via A1(M) Junction 48.
Applegreen and Welcome Break are now appealing the decision, with a hearing set for February 2021. The Yorkshire Post has taken an editorial position against the application.
The appeal is currently being considered by Harrogate Borough Council. They had also considering a nearby proposal for a service area at Ripon; that was refused. The Kirby Hill plan is being vociferously opposed by the Residents Against Motorway Services (RAMS).
See also: A1(M) Planning Applications
The A1(M) through North Yorkshire is one of the only major motorways to open since the planning of new motorway services was passed from the government to the developers in 1992.
This has revealed significant difficulty. It is up to the planning process to decide between rival service area proposals, and this moves slowly. As a result, the A1(M) through North Yorkshire has seen numerous plans for new services, and several lengthy public inquiries.
Heather Ive Associates
Heather Ive Associates made their first planning application in October 1996. A second application was made in February 1997. As with many planning developments, had Heather Ive been successful, they would have been likely to sell the site to a well-known operator.
Heather Ive appealed both outcomes, as they weren't determined in time. In October 1998, a public inquiry considered these two appeals (though the first was soon withdrawn), alongside other planned services at Allerton, Arkendale and Wetherby.
In March 1999, the Secretary of State awarded planning permission to the Kirby Hill plan only. This decision was challenged by Harrogate Borough Council and later quashed. The inquiry was reopened in 2001, studying Kirby Hill and Wetherby, alongside Skelton Grange, Bramham Crossroads, Wetherby and Flaxby Covert. This concluded in 2005 with planning permission being awarded to Wetherby.
In 2008, Heather Ive Associates planned to build Kirby Hill again. Harrogate Borough Council argued that there was no need for the service area, and that it would cause "demonstrable harm". They refused the application, and Heather Ive appealed. A public inquiry in 2011 described the "visual harm" and "adverse affect" on the landscape; it also referenced the local opposition and the time it would take to build, before rejecting the scheme in favour of Leeming Bar.
Until 2013, regulations prohibited motorway service areas being built too close together. This is now no longer the case, and technically several different service areas could all be built next to each other. In practice, the local authority would still have to be satisfied that there is an overriding case in favour of the development.
Applegreen's interest in the Kirby Hill site stemmed from their enthusiasm to break into the UK motorway market. It was one of a number of proposals they made in around 2017. Now that Applegreen own Welcome Break, they now have a share of the UK market. However, they still see this proposal as an opportunity to break into a new region.
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