The British Racing Drivers' Club has revealed that, unless it can secure the investment it requires to press ahead with its ambitious development plans, it would consider selling or renting large sections of the Silverstone estate
After a couple of false starts, the BRDC is still searching for the £150m injection it requires to add to the circuit remodelling and pit/paddock complex it has already funded over the past couple of years, and has given itself until the end of the current season to secure the funding before it resorts to alternative means of raising the capital.
According to Britain's Telegraph
newspaper, the club's board has received permission from members to 'waive its veto rights' over development of the venue's 850 acres of land, which would allow it to sell or rent sections of the estate, which was valued at £51.8m by property consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle in February 2010.
"By the end of the year at the latest, we will have either done a comprehensive deal for all of Silverstone or we will maybe be talking to entities about renting or buying a long lease on parts of the non-circuit land," chairman Stuart Rolt admitted.
The BRDC signed an exclusivity agreement with one prospective partner towards the end of 2011 and, while negotiations with the potential investor remained positive, the impending end of the period of exclusivity convinced the club to broaden its search and engage with other interested parties. That preferred investor was understood to be Qatari but, despite fears that the entire venue would be sold to the Gulf investors, talks ultimately came to nothing.
“The commercial potential of Silverstone and the estate is significant and we are seeking external investment from third parties who share our vision to help us realise that potential more quickly,” Rolt confirmed at the time, “The BRDC has funded the new Grand Prix circuit, state-of-the-art Silverstone Wing complex, key developments around the venue and the planning process for the 'Silverstone Masterplan'. An appropriately qualified investor will help to develop Silverstone further, into a world-class, multi-purpose centre for motorsport, high technology business, training and education. This is our vision and we remain committed to that.”
The home of British motorsport received a major boost in its long-term security late last year, when both Aylesbury Vale District Council and South Northamptonshire Council gave the circuit planning permission to carry out its '20-year Masterplan'.
The 'Silverstone Development' brief, first put forward in February 2009, proposes a major revamp of the site which will consist of three hotels, a business park, technology centre, education campus, exhibition centre and improved spectator and leisure facilities, including a kart track. Existing elements of the circuit will also go under some refurbishment.
The government's plans to fund and establish a University Technical College (UTC) at Silverstone will be another significant development, providing up to 540 young people aged 14-19 with the opportunity to train for a career in high-performance engineering or event management.