Motorway Services Online

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Unbuilt Services

Model motorway service area.

While Britain has plenty of motorway service areas, it has just as many which were planned but never built.

Unbuilt motorway service areas come in two forms. Perhaps the most famous is those which were half-built and never finished. Motorway service area planning used to be closely tied to the planning of the main motorway network, and as a result the construction of each motorway used to include space for a number of service areas which were never built.

In this section, we detail the original plan for service stations on each motorway, as well as listing any evidence of the projects which were never finished.

In recent times, new motorway service areas have been proposed by private companies instead of the government. This led to a boom of new proposals, often fighting over the same few parts of the country. Where available, these planning applications which were ultimately unsuccessful are all listed at the bottom of each page.

Tap one of the roads below to see a map of what its service areas were supposed to look like. For a generic guide to how service area locations are chosen, see Planning. If a road isn't covered here, try searching for the history of the service areas on that road.


Toddington Kenning Motor Group rejected option above.jpg
M1

Britain's first major motorway pioneered the service station planning system. Three of them are unfinished.

Kempshott southbound offslip.jpg
M3

The M3 functioned like a short commuter road, with three service stations on its agenda.

Almondsbury Interchange.jpg
M4

The M4 was where it all went wrong - developed in two sections with nothing but trouble in the middle.

East Bower service area site.jpg
M5

Low traffic levels was the main concern with the M5, leaving a number of service areas unfinished.

Doxey works unit entrance.jpg
M6

The M6's notoriously high traffic levels saw the majority of its planned service areas brought to fruition - but there are a few which slipped through the net.

Chigwell south approaching exit.jpg
M11

A great example of a road where none of the original plans ever came to fruition, despite having one of the most well-known half-built service areas of all at Chigwell.

Hatfield looking north.jpg
M18

The relatively short M18 has its own half-built service area at Hatfield.

West Kingsdown services.jpg
M20

Progress was very slow with the M20, but two of its planned service areas eventually succeeded.

M23 Gatwick Airport Roundabout.jpg
M23

Famously, most of the M23 was never built. This made the plan to provide service areas on it rather redundant.

Chevening Interchange.jpg
M25 (and M16)

When the planned M16 and M25 motorways were merged to create one London Orbital, it was difficult to plan the service areas - especially on the western side.

Meon services construction.jpg
M27 (Meon)

The M27 only has one unfinished service area, but it is very easy to spot - this page is all about Meon Valley.

Lewknor north services site.jpg
M40

One of Britain's newest major motorways makes its way across some fine English countryside - which meant objections were rife whenever service areas were suggested.

M42 ATM at Friday Lane.jpg
M42

The motorway which likes to link other roads together has a long history of planning battles with regards to service areas.

M56 at Frodsham.jpg
M53 and M56

Two motorways in the north west of England where no services were provided for many years.

Cluddley services sites.jpg
M54

From Lizard Hill to Castle Farm, there isn't much more to the M54.

Hensall looking east.jpg
M62

At the western end all of the service areas were built as planned - but then they lost interest.

Kirby Hill site.jpg
A1 and A1(M)

A real mix of the old and the new: some examples of early planning, a half-built service area, a whole heap of private proposals and a knotted mess of public inquiries as developers compete to serve one of Britain's newest motorways.

Swavesey and Cambridge.jpg
A14

The busy freight route to Felixstowe was thrown together out of sections of existing road, creating a patchwork quilt of service areas.

Sutton Scotney selection of adverts.jpg
A34

A flurry of interest between Newbury and Oxford made up the majority of proposals for the A34.

Kirkham proposed site.jpg
More Unbuilt Services

This is the 'broken biscuits' page, where we deal with an assortment of cases which don't deserve their own page. Featuring developer and government proposals for the M12, M55, M77 and more.

Trumps Green M3 map.jpg
Overall Map

All of the unbuilt, unfinished and once-planned service areas have been placed on this map, allowing you to see which parts of the country received the most attention.