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Motorways (Service Areas)

Volume 976: debated on Friday 21 December 1979

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asked the Minister of Transport whether his new policy for motorway service areas allows for the possibility of developing retail trading units either adjacent to existing motorway service areas or at newly developed ones; and if he contemplates allowing retail trading elsewhere on motorways independent of service areas.

All existing motorway service areas contain small shops selling a range of goods including confectionery, books and gifts. With the new independence I am giving them, operators will be free to extend these facilities, provided that the service they offer is not inconsistent with the statutory purposes for which the land was acquired.The development of land adjacent to service areas or elsewhere along the motorway would require planning permission; and if the proposed development is within 67 metres of the centre of the road, the planning application would be referred to me. I would then have to consider whether to exercise my power to direct refusal of the application or to impose conditions.In practice, road safety considerations, and the need to keep the number of access points to a minimum in the interests of maintaining the motorways' high safety record, make it unlikely that developments of the kind which I think the hon. Member has in mind will prove to be acceptable.