Solihull Motorway Service Area

The need for a new MSA

Why do we need Motorway Service Areas?

Most people will have stopped at a Motorway Service Area at some point in time and may use such facilities on a regular basis. Motorway Service Areas (MSAs) are important as they provide the opportunity for drivers (and their passengers) to take a break on long journeys. The ability for drivers to stop on a regular basis is important in terms of road safety, as driver fatigue is a recognised major cause of Motorway Accidents.

Drivers of many commercial and public service vehicles are subject to a regime of statutory breaks and other working time restrictions and MSAs assist in compliance with such requirements.

Government policy

The primary function of roadside facilities for motorists should be to support the safety and welfare of the road user.” (National Planning Policy Framework 2012).

Government policy (DfT Circular 02/2013) seeks to ensure that drivers have the opportunity to stop and take a break at intervals of no more than 30 minutes travelling time (typically 28 miles or less). If a gap of more than 30 mins travelling time exists between MSAs, then the ‘need’ for a new MSA is established.

Existing distances between MSAs on this part of the Motorway Network considerably exceed the maximum gap on both travelling time and distance.

From To Distance
Warwick Services (M40) Telford Services (M54) via M42/M6 63 miles
Warwick Services (M40) Hilton Park (M6) via M42/M6 50 miles
Warwick Services (M40) Norton Canes (M6 Toll) via M42/M6 Toll 46 miles
Warwick Services (M40) Tamworth Services (M42) 37 miles
Warwick Services (M40) Corley Services (M6) via M42/M6 36 miles

Table 1. Gaps in excess of 28 miles (30 minutes maximum travelling distance) between MSAs on the Midlands Motorway Network to/from Warwick (M40) via M42/M6/M6 Toll

Two further gaps in excess of 28 miles exist between Hopwood Park Services and existing MSAs at Hilton Park and Norton Canes (for traffic travelling to/ from these north along the M42). On most occasions traffic travelling between Hopwood Park MSA and Hilton Park MSA would use the M42/M5/M6. However at certain times this route can be blocked or experiencing significant delays which affects route choice with the result that that traffic may divert via the M42 and M6/M6Toll.


From To Distance
Hopwood Park Services (M42) Hilton Park (M6) via M42 north/M6 45 miles
Hopwood Park Services (M42) Norton Canes Services (M6 Toll) via M42 north/M6 35 miles

Table 2. Additional gaps in excess of 28 miles (30 minutes maximum travelling distance) on the Network

A gap either exists or it does not; flows and route choice are irrelevant. Once a gap is shown to exist, it is not necessary to have regard to other considerations in determining whether a need exists (i.e. the existence of a gap is in and of itself conclusive evidence of need for planning purposes).

For completeness the distances between other MSAs within the Midlands Motorway area are shown on Table 3 below. With the exception of the gap between Frankley Services and Telford Services these do not exceed 28 miles although at certain times, these journeys can take longer than 30 minutes.


From To Distance
Hopwood Park Services (M42) Tamworth Services (M42) 27 miles
Hopwood Park Services (M42) Corley Services (M6) via M42/M6 25 miles
Hopwood Park Services (M42) Warwick Services (M40) via M42/M40 23 miles
Frankley Services (M5) Hilton Park (M6) 18 miles
Frankley Services (M5) Telford Services (M54) via M5/M6/M54 33 miles

Table 3. Other distances between MSAs on the Midlands Motorway Network

The existence of the gaps identified in Table 1 above have been confirmed twice by the Secretary of State, following two public Inquiries (‘minded to approve’ decision in 2001 and subsequent decision in 2009) and also by Highways England (formerly the Highways Agency). The ‘need’ for a new MSA will continue to grow as traffic flows increase in the future. Failure to address this ‘need’ will place the safety and welfare of road users at risk.