Donington Park's troubled progress towards hosting the British Grand Prix as of 2010 has taken a step forward with the news that the local council has judged the circuit's application for planning permission 'valid'.

North West Leicestershire District Council has given a tentative thumbs-up to the $175 million re-development plans submitted by Donington, reports local newspaper the Derby Evening Standard - meaning final approval may be granted by the end of the year.

There have been repeated doubts about the ability of the Leicestershire venue to welcome Formula 1 - it last hosted the top flight back in 1993, when it served as the home of a rain-drenched European Grand Prix - since the shock announcement was made that it was to replace Silverstone in holding Britain's blue riband motorsport event in two years' time.

Critics have pointed to the circuit's poor transport links and road access and outdated facilities - with many wondering just how Donington will possibly be upgraded to F1 standard in just over 20 months' time.

Since that time there has been further turmoil, with the departure of joint CEO Leo Gill early last month, and revelations that the nearby East Midlands Airport had been forced to divert planes due to not having been informed of new constructions at the track and on-site traders selling alcohol to under-age spectators during a MotoGP event there in June [see separate story - click here]. There has also been scepticism as a result of the council's stipulation that an environmental impact assessment be undertaken.

"We have been working closely with the track owners and planning consultants," stated council cabinet member John Bridges. "I am confident that, if we continue working together, we will be able to make a decision by the end of the year."