Plans have been submitted for a new eco-friendly service station on the M5 in Gloucestershire. The site, which would be located between junctions 11a and 12 on the motorway, both north and soutbound, would be part-operated by a charity. The Gloucestershire Gateway
Services project is said to be unique because it is a joint venture between charity Gloucestershire Gateway Trust (GGT) and family run business Westmorland Limited – the company behind the Tebay motorway services on the M6 in Cumbria.
According to Westmorland, the site would create around 300 permanent jobs and bring an investment of £30 million to the local area. It would also "make a commitment to local sourcing in its shops and restaurants, promote the tourist destinations of Gloucestershire and the South West, and a significant proportion of its profits would be distributed each year to the voluntary and community organisations in Gloucestershire through an annual profit share".
Westmorland said the idea for the proposal came from GGT, which was established in 2007, with the aim of bringing social and economic regeneration to the county and region. Its chief executive, local social entrepreneur Mark Gale, has worked in neighbourhood regeneration on social housing estates across Gloucestershire for the last 30 years.
Gale said: “The M5 is only 400 metres from places such as Matson and 30 million vehicles a year pass by with no local benefit. The Proposed Gloucestershire Gateway Services would change this and provide the perfect opportunity to stimulate economic growth, create jobs, showcase Gloucestershire, encourage investment and celebrate our culture and identity. However to ensure the social and commercial objectives of this project are delivered we needed to find the right commercial partner. We are therefore delighted that Westmorland Limited has agreed to be our partner.“
Sarah Dunning, chief executive of Westmorland Limited, commented: “We are very excited about the opportunity to lead the market with a new model of motorway services in Gloucestershire. The objectives complement what we have already achieved at Tebay Services and as such Gloucestershire Gateway services will have no franchises. Instead the food will be homemade using local ingredients; we will sell local and regional produce through its farm shops as well as local arts and crafts in the shops. We will recruit the majority of the 300 staff locally and run our own mini buses to transport people to and from work. These jobs will be at all levels, full, part time and flexible hours as well as opportunities for good career progression. To maximize the opportunity for local people there will be pre employment training, work trials and on going accredited training.”
According to Westmorland, it is considered that there is a deficiency of core motorway service area provision on this stretch of the M5 motorway. And an assessment of appropriate sites to locate a Motorway Services Area has concluded that the site identified is the most suitable. As the site lies within a generally rural landscape the proposal will seek to minimise impact through "careful, sensitive design".
Before finalising the planning application, Gloucestershire Gateway Trust and Westmorland Limited are inviting members of the local community to view the proposal, make comments and ask questions of the development team at a series of public events
Following the public consultation, Gloucestershire Gateway Trust and Westmorland Limited will take the opportunity to make revisions to the proposal in response to consultation feedback. It is anticipated that the planning application will be submitted in early December 2009.