An eco-friendly roof for Skelton Lake Services, Leeds.

Following its opening in March of this year, Leeds Skelton Lake Services is seamlessly blending into its lakeside environment thanks to its ‘living roof’.

We are no stranger to green roof installations, and Skelton Lake Services has been one of our most interesting, rewarding and unique roof projects to date.

Skelton Lake Services is located on the M1, approximately two miles from the city centre of Leeds. Part of the Extra group, the £64M Motorway Service Area (MSA) was opened in March, just as the rest of the country was shutting down. The timing was opportune as the site was able to provide an essential service to hauliers and key workers at the height of the initial wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Extra’s newest service station

With the new MSA occupying a lakeside environment within a 40,000m2 ecologically diverse country park, the sympathetic integration of the building was a key design priority. We worked closely with the Landscape Architect, Smeeden Foreman, Wetherby-based Brambledown Landscapes Ltd, and installers ABG Ltd to deliver an enhanced landscape that fits seamlessly into the local environment while also conforming to planning regulations.

Our wildflowers crown the top of the main MSA building which comprises a 100-bed Hotel and Food Court and the undulating roof is completely soil-less. We also supplied the substrate for the project to ensure speed of growth and the roof vegetation has thrived as a result.

The project was not without its challenges, and the weather presented no end of drama. The very wet winter of 2019 ensured that the site was often sodden and delays in the build and installation were inevitable. Likewise, the dry weather that followed in early spring 2020 meant that irrigation was required to ensure that the wildflowers received sufficient water during the first few important weeks following installation. (The clever roof design incorporates a drip irrigation system that has been laid across the substrate and underneath the turf across the gradient of the roof slope. The pipes are supplied by five water storage tanks and controlled remotely, and watering is automatically adjusted in line with data from rainfall sensors.)

Drone view of the site during construction

The bespoke blend designed specifically for the project consists of 41 different native UK wildflower species. As well as helping the living roof to effortlessly blend into its environment, our work with this mix also ensured that necessary planning requirements were met.

The MSA’s roof meadow provides a biodiverse home for bees and other invertebrate species and also plays an important role in the site’s overall sustainable drainage strategy by absorbing rainwater and minimising surface water run-off.

The bespoke turf is laid

In combination with the growing medium and filtration fabrics within the green roof construction, the wildflowers will help to filter dust and pollution from the air and rainfall, thus reducing the amount of chemicals and pollutants that reach the surrounding river networks.

The green roof will also help to significantly reduce carbon emissions from the amenity building with any heat generated drawn into the cool roof construction and then dissipated to the environment. Furthermore, the wildflower meadow will assist in absorbing and reducing low frequency sounds from the nearby motorway, with the extensive build up insulating up to 40dB.

Boasting a show-stopping design AND numerous biodiverse and ecological benefits, its worth calling in when you are next in the Leeds area.

Undulating roof topped with wildflower turf

Interested in the benefits of a green roof? Do you have a green roof project of your own to share? Then we’d love to hear from you! Drop us a line at [email protected].