A POPULAR service station on the M5 in Somerset will be expanded and significantly upgraded in the coming months if new plans are approved.

Roadchef Motorways Ltd operates the Taunton Deane services, which lie on the M5 between junction 26 (for Wellington) and junction 25 (for Taunton).

The company has applied for permission to extend the southbound services and carry out a full internal refurbishment of the facilities and business units within the existing block.

Somerset Council is expected to make a decision on the proposals by the early-spring.

The services, which lies in the parish of Pitminster, has been welcoming motorists since 1976 and operates 24 hours a day.

The southbound services currently includes a WHSmith newsagents, a McDonalds restaurant, Chozen Noodle, Fresh Food Café, The Cornish Bakery and Costa Coffee – with the latter two outlets also having outside seating at the entrance to the amenity building.

The main building – which was previously given a minor facelift in 2018 – also includes a gaming area, public toilets and seating areas.

Under these latest proposals, the amenity building will be extended towards the car park, providing nearly 260 sq m of extra covered space for customer seating and a new restaurant.

Rachel Reaney, director of Astrum Planning (which is representing the applicant), said: “As part of the development, the internal layout is to be adapted to enable the naturally fast food operator ‘Leon’ to function from the motorway service area.

“The proposal will also allow for an expanded seating and rest area, alongside the relocation and upgrading of an existing Costa Coffee.

“The reconfiguration of the internal floorspace will also allow for an improved and wider internal circulation route, which will be served by a new pedestrian entrance.

“Finally, the proposal will also relocate an existing counter operated by Chozen Noodle to the north east of the amenity building, to allow an improved offer at WHSmith.”

Roadchef – which operates 30 service stations across the UK – estimates that at least 13 new jobs will be created if the proposals go ahead.

The council is expected to make a decision on the plans before the summer. It is not currently clear whether this decision will be taken in public by its planning committee west (which handles major applications in the former Somerset West and Taunton area) or through the delegated powers of its planning officers.

The M5 between Wellington and Bridgwater will be subject to numerous upgrades over the next 12 months.

Between April and July 2024, National Highways (which is responsible for the motorway’s upkeep) will be refurbishing five bridges at Bathpool Canal, Bathpool Railway, River Tone and the Blackbrook Interchange North and South, all within easy reach of junction 25.

The work will involve concrete repairs, waterproofing, expansion joint replacements, barrier replacement, and installing new lining, studs and surfacing.

Later in 2024, the council will finally begin its £5m upgrade of the ‘concrete carriageway’ (a.k.a. the Chelston link road), which connects Junction 26 to the Westpark 26 business park and provides access to Wellington town centre.

Heather Lang, head of south west scheme delivery for National Highways, said: “We work with our local authority partners in planning all roadworks near our strategic road network, and will continue to liaise with the council to ensure that our respective works are appropriately programmed, taking both local communities and the travelling public into consideration.”