Refurbished services create a green haven for motorists.

Refurbished services create a green haven for motorists.

Project: Cambridge Motorway Services

Location: A14, Cambridge

Landscape architect: Smeeden Foreman

Product/services supplied: Green-tech Geocellular Raft System tree pits, Mona Irrigation, Tree Anchors, ResiBond, Green-tree Soil, Tree Guards, Stakes and Ties

Refurbished services create a green haven for motorists.

About the project:

As part of the final stages to the long-running A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon improvement scheme, Cambridge motorway services, run by Extra MSA, underwent a complete refurbishment scheme that was completed summer 2022. Cambridge is one of eight state-of-the-art motorway services across the UK run by Extra MSA, including Skelton Lakes near Leeds, for which Green-tech also supplied soil, compost, bark, and tree shelters.

Situated close to the northern end of the M11, within open countryside just four miles Northwest of Cambridge, the multi-million-pound project provides an exceptional experience for visitors; so much so that they have been named in the UK’s top five motorway services based on customer facilities.

The landscape improvements included re-contouring of the land, new EV charging points, and double the parking capacity for all vehicle types, from cars, motorhomes and caravans, to coaches and HGVs.

Green-tech’s involvement:

The project included both hard and soft landscaping, with the large outdoor seating area in front of the main entrance featuring four trees set within a block paving and resin bound mixed surface. It makes for a pleasant area to sit and relax or eat.

Green-tech has been manufacturing its range of Green-tree soil for nearly twenty years, and 270 tonnes of sub-soil and Geocellular Raft System topsoil was supplied for the tree pits. In order to use a friable, organic topsoil underneath the paving, Green-tech supplied Geocellular Raft System tree pit support system that acts as a sub-base replacement, supporting the paving above from pedestrian, or vehicular traffic, whilst protecting the soft soil below from risk of compaction. Each tree pit contains a strap anchor system to keep the trees stable during the all-important establishment phase, along with a mona irrigation ring.

The Geocellular Raft System has three major advantages over traditional deep-pit crate systems. Firstly - it sits over the top of the tree pit, taking its structural support from a 500mm wide ledge cut into the surrounding formation ground, meaning there is no plastic whatsoever in the actual rooting area of the tree pit. Secondly - its shallow profile, just 150mm deep means that there is rarely any conflict with underground services, it isn’t deep enough. And thirdly - Geocellular Raft System uses less than a third of the plastic of traditional crate-style tree pit systems, so it’s better for the budget and the environment.

The tree planting in the soft landscaping scheme creates a buffer between the main services and the lorry park, as well as the surrounding area. Green-tech supplied 1,687 tree shelters to give protection from the local wildlife, along with nearly 500 tree stakes with rubber belts and ties and 220 Mona Grand Aria irrigation rings.

To aid healthy establishment nearly 20,000 litres of compost was delivered to site and to top dress the site, over 100,000 litres of ornamental bark was supplied.

Ian Birtwistle, Principal Landscape Architect from Smeeden Foreman comments, “We have worked with Green-tech for many years and the level of service, and quality of products can always be relied upon to make projects, no matter what size, run smoothly.”

Alasdair Innes, Green-tech Specification Advisor, adds: “Extra MSA are really upping the standards of motorway services, making them really pleasant to stop off and rest awhile. Cambridge Services, along with Skelton Lakes close to Green-tech’s head office in Yorkshire, show what a difference a well thought out landscaping plan can make. It is wonderful to see the finished project and we look forward to seeing the trees and landscape mature over the coming years.”

For any further product information or to request a CPD in person or remotely on any of our urban or rural modules please contact Alasdair Innes at or telephone 01423 332177.

Posted on 23 Feb 2023