Revamp hopes as M1 services sold for £35m

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Woolley Edge Services near Barnsley has been acquired for £35.1m by a commercial property investment manager.

London-based Orchard Street has bought the freehold for the facilities on the M1 four miles north of Barnsley between junctions 38 and 39.

It is set in 30 acres and has south and northbound service areas featuring an M&S Simply Food, Costa Coffee, Burger King and WH Smith, as well as BP filling stations and Travelodges on both sides.

Woolley Edge is let on a 25-year lease - with 11 left to run - to MOTO Hospitality, the UK’s largest service area operator. Rental income is £2.5m a year.

John Humberstone, partner at Orchard Street, said: “Woolley Edge is in a prime position on the northern section of the M1. It already provides a strong index-linked income stream and also offers attractive long term value prospects.”

The acquisition was made on behalf of St. James’s Place Property Unit Trust.

Orchard Street was advised by Knight Frank.

Adam Chapman, of Knight Frank, said: “The sector has witnessed an extraordinary resurgence in the last decade, due in part to the introduction of major high street brands and a relaxation in government policy, and with increasing investor involvement, highly impressive ‘airport-like’ facilities are likely to one day be the norm.

“Service areas offer remarkably strong investment credentials, being extremely defensive, due to high barriers to entry, and providing a robust hedge against rising inflation.

“Yet opportunities to acquire comprehensive service area assets are extremely rare, with the majority of the network being held freehold.”

The service station, which is also a Megabus interchange, opened in 1972.