Campaigners win 'David v Goliath' battle as Doncaster A1M Moto service station plan is thrown out by Government
Campaigners fighting a ‘David v Goliath’ battle against plans for a massive motorway service station in Doncaster have come out victorious after the Government ruled in their favour.
Moto Hospitality Limited, who operate 60 service stations across the UK, originally submitted plans for large scale development off the Marr roundabout at junction 37 of the A1M/A635 in February 2017.
The scheme included a petrol station, a drive-through Costa Coffee, Greggs, M&S Simply Food, WH Smith, Burger King, an Arlo’s restaurant, a games centre, space for several other food and retail units along with a 562-space car park.
Despite support from top bosses at Doncaster Council, councillors on the planning committee rejected the plans over concerns around the impact on the environment and wildlife.
Moto Hospitality Ltd appealed the decision and a public inquiry took place back in December at Cast Theatre.
Maria Stasiak, a decision officer at the government department on behalf of Secretary of State James Brokenshire, said the need for a motorway service station ‘attracts limited weight’ in terms of economic benefits.
Following the six-day hearing, the decision ruled in the campaigners favour in published documents this week.
Campaigners battling the proposals said they were delighted at the decision after years of turmoil and stress.
Rhonda Job, chairman of the Joint Rural Parishes which represents 16 village communities in west Doncaster, said herself and others ‘cancelled Christmases’ in fighting this development and added they were ‘over the moon’ at the decision.
“Fundamentally, we believed that this planning application was so wrong, it was an awful, awful time but we managed to get through it,” she said.
“It really was an uphill battle and Nick Balliger, Pam Moorhouse and myself, virtually had to cancel our family Christmases for the last two years in order to prepare for the planning committee meeting and then the public inquiry appeal.
“The Secretary of State’s decision to reject this planning application means so much more to us than just winning because of everything we went through. We’re all just over the moon.”
Joint Rural Parishes secretary Pam Moorhouse added: “It is crucially important that ordinary people can have their say, even though it sometimes takes a personal toll and comes at enormous personal cost. This was most definitely a true David and Goliath situation.”
Cynthia Ransome, Conservative councillor for the Sprotbrough ward, paid tribute to the three campaigners.
“Had it not been for the JRP and the diligence, knowledge and tenacity of three exceptional people, an unneeded and inappropriate major development, causing more disruption to the A635 and junction 37 of the A1(M) would have gone ahead.
“Had this application been permitted, it would have taken prime grade 2 agricultural land, the best we have in Doncaster.”
Following the decision on behalf of Me Brokenshire, Ms Stasiak said: “The Secretary of State considers that the harm to the Green Belt attracts substantial weight against the proposal, that the harm to the landscape, loss of countryside and visual amenity together attract significant weight against the proposal and that the loss of the best and most versatile agricultural land also attracts moderate weight against the proposal.
“The Secretary of State considers that the proposal is inappropriate development in the Green Belt, which should not be approved except in very special circumstances which will not exist unless the potential harm to the Green Belt and any other harm from the proposal are clearly outweighed by other considerations.
“Mr Brokenshire concludes that there are no material considerations which indicate that the proposal should be determined other than in accordance with the development plan.”