BUILDING work started this week on a new £40 million motorway service area between junctions 11a and 12 of the M5.

The 66-acre development at Ongars Farm in Brookthorpe is a partnership between the Gloucestershire Gateway Trust charity and private firm Westmorland Limited.

More than 1,000 objectors originally signed a petition opposing the project, which was approved by Stroud District Council's planning committee in August 2010.

However, supporters say it will provide a much needed boost to the local economy and create 200 jobs.

Modelled on Westmorland's award-winning Tebay services in Cumbria, the development consists of northbound and southbound service stations with facilities including food outlets, shops, toilets and petrol pumps.

Work started last Wednesday by the Buckingham Group, a family owned construction company.

The northbound service station will be developed first and will take around 15 months to finish, opening in summer 2014.

A proportion of the income generated will be reinvested by Gloucestershire Gateway Trust into neighbouring communities.

Sarah Dunning, Westmorland's chief executive, said: "We are delighted the project is starting so that we can get the local community benefits flowing and help raise Gloucestershire's profile."

A community co-op cafe based in Matson called On Toast Gateway, which is part owned by the trust, will be ensuring the construction workers are well fed by supplying them with freshly made toasties every day.