Goodbye Greenbelt: First sight of 'behemoth' M25 service area
Residents have blasted the £75m service station opened on 60 acres of greenbelt land off the M25 at Cobham.
The new Cobham services, between junctions 9 and 10 of the motorway, fill the 63-mile-gap between service areas on one of Britain’s busiest motorways.
Sue Kilpatrick, chairman of the Cobham and Downside Residents’ Association, said the 'behemoth' was not a welcome addition to the area.
She said: “It is unnecessary and I have always thought it was. Why not just build a toilet and a petrol station if that’s what was needed.
"Why do we need a 75-bedroom hotel? Who is going to stay there? There are hotels in Cobham people can stay at.
“The site is probably bigger than the whole of Downside village and takes up more than 60 acres of precious greenbelt land.
"It is a fact that pollution from vehicles is much higher when they are stopped and started, which is obviously what will be the case with a motorway service area.
"After the M25 was built, the incidence of asthma and other complaints in the area increased. How many more chest problems will arise in Cobham and Downside in the future, particularly as the prevailing wind is southerly?”
The 24-hour site, which opened on Thursday, September 13, features a 75-bedroom Days Inn hotel, the largest Shell petrol station in the UK, a lakeside terrace, eco area and a range of food outlets.
The new petrol station has 36 fuel pumps with 141 nozzles and the capacity to serve up to 3,400 vehicles a day, compared with an average of 700 at a standard filling station.
The services has a range of stores, including McDonald’s, Starbucks, M&S Simply Food, WH Smith, KFC and Eat In. In addition, there will be a separate lounge facility and business centre.
Extra Motorway Services’ vision was to “create an exceptional motorway service area for customers to enjoy well located facilities approximately midway between London Heathrow and Gatwick airports”.
Andrew Long, CEO of Extra Group, said: “The Cobham Motorway Service Area has been 19 years in development and we are delighted to see the final results of the hard work and planning of the team involved.
"Our aim was to provide an attractive, relaxing and comfortable environment, designed to offer the ideal opportunity for mid-journey rest and refreshment; a quick refuelling stop, convenient meeting location and/or overnight stay."
Councillor Dorothy Mitchell said: “I think it’s sad. It is 60 acres of greenbelt land that is gone.
"No matter how swish the service area is, I just think it is unnecessary. It’s a ring road for goodness sake. It’s not a motorway that goes from here to Scotland."
John Prescott, then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, gave permission for the service area to be built in 2005, despite 10 years of opposition from residents and Elmbridge Council, and work began in May 2011.