A plan for a new Welcome Break services on the M25 motorway in Buckinghamshire has been sent to Michael Gove for approval.

Buckinghamshire Council sent the Levelling Up Secretary a request in mid-December to be allowed to use its land at Iver for non-Green Belt purposes under the 1938 Act.

The application for the services just north of the A4007 Slough Road between junctions 15 and 16 of the M25 overbridge was approved by the council’s Strategic Sites Committee in September.

However, the proposals must go before the Secretary of State, who will decide whether to give permission for the development on Green Belt land or call it in, and separately, whether the council can use its land for the motorway service area.

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Plans for the services include a food court, shops, toilets, drive-thru coffee shop, petrol station and more than 1,000 parking spaces.

Access will be created from a new interchange off the M25, while a new flyover will be joined to the Slough Road.

The proposals are massively unpopular in Iver, which has been “betrayed” by Bucks Council over the plans, according to the parish council.

Scores of residents have objected to the new service area due to its impact on the environment and councillors from across the political spectrum have criticised the plans.

Anna Crabtree, the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Candidate for Beaconsfield, claimed the council had disregarded local residents’ opposition to the services.

READ MORE: New M25 services: Village ‘betrayed’ by approval of green belt site

She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): “What worries me most is this pattern we’re seeing of Bucks Council ignoring the common sense and the knowledge that the local people have when it comes to the decision about the Green Belt.

“I am really conscious that the council is not impartial here because this is their land, so they stand to gain financially from the disposal of the land and the deal with Welcome Break.

“The residents in the south of Buckinghamshire feel like this land is being sold off to prop up council spending happening 50 miles away in the north of the county.”

In preparation for the new services, the council quietly announced it intended to dispose of land and buildings at Iver’s Round Coppice Estate and Mansfield Farm on its website and in a notice in the Slough Observer in September.

If approved, Welcome Break would lease the land from the council, while the council would remain the freeholder.

A land Registry document shows that the council signed a 2019 agreement for a lease with Welcome Break and its parent company Appia, which also controls Colne Valley Motorway Service Area Ltd, the company set up to apply for the new services.

The Independent Buckinghamshire Councillor for Iver, Paul Griffin questioned the process of approving the services.

He told the LDRS: “You don’t know what has gone on in the hushed room before the meeting.

“I would hate to imply that there is anything inappropriate going on. But you have also got to look at the fact that the majority of the Strategic Sites Committee are Conservative.

“There could be a party view about the way they would like things to turn out, but I would not go any further than that.

“The public sentiment is still very strongly against anything like the motorway services in that area.

“Because it is a place where people walk their dogs and go for a walk. They are going to lose that opportunity.”

Conservative Councillor for Iver Wendy Matthews added: “I feel that it is prime Green Belt. It is in a very narrow strategic location between Iver and Uxbridge and it should be protected.”

Councillor Alan Turner, Chair of the council’s Strategic Sites Committee, said: “The Strategic Sites Committee at Buckinghamshire Council considered two applications for a motorway services area between junctions 15 and 16, Iver Heath, and between junctions 16 and 17, Chalfont St Peter, of the M25.

“On balance, it was deemed that the proposed Iver Heath application was less harmful in terms of the Green Belt and landscape visual impact.

“The process the committee follows in determining these and any other planning applications is clearly set out in nationally set planning law and due process has been followed at all times during this process.”