One week on from F1 commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone confirming that the British Grand Prix would return to Silverstone if its new home at Donington Park was not ready to host the event in 2010, the Leicestershire circuit has revealed that another hurdle has been successfully crossed.
According to a official statement, Donington has finally been granted the planning permission it needs to continue the construction work designed to bring the circuit and its facilities up to F1 standard, something that officials believe 'adds further credibility to Donington Park's promises that it will be ready to host F1 races from next year'.
An initial ten-year agreement to host the British Grand Prix was extended to 17 years by Ecclestone in the week leading up to last weekend's Silverstone round, but doubt continued to surround the situation, with many in the paddock openly suggesting that the race would - and, indeed, should - return to Silverstone without ever venturing north up the M1.
The latest developments at Donington saw a Section 106 agreement signed by all relevant parties with just days to go ahead of a North West Leicestershire District Council planning permission deadline. Circuit owner Simon Gillett and landowner Tom Wheatcroft are both reported to have signed the document today [Friday], cementing the planning permission originally granted on 8 January, but which required the Section 106 agreement as a condition of approval.
Section 106 of the UK's Town and Country Planning Act 1990
allows a local planning authority to enter into a legally-binding agreement or planning obligation with a landowner in association with the granting of planning permission. The obligation is termed a Section 106 Agreement, and are a way of delivering or addressing matters that are necessary to make a development acceptable in planning terms. They are increasingly used to support the provision of services and infrastructure, such as highways, recreational facilities, education, health and affordable housing and, in Donington's case, could relate to the need to improve the transport network surrounding the circuit in order to deal with the increased traffic that the grand prix is sure to generate.
Despite this weekend seeing the World Superbike Championship taking over Donington Park, work is expected to begin immediately on building the new pit and paddock complex alongside the return straight between Coppice and the Esses, with the footings will be pulled through by contractors and machinery already on site.
"It's great to have cleared another hurdle and to see the hard work of the entire team at the circuit paying off," Gillett commented, "There's no denying that we still have a lot of hard work ahead, but we'll continue to remain positive and do everything that we can to deliver against the promises that we have been made. The construction work is obviously extremely important, but we're also trying hard to ensure that it doesn't compromise the experience that our visitors to forthcoming events have."