Planning permission to enable Donington Park to press ahead with its £100 million re-development to host the British Grand Prix from next year is 'in the bag', assures circuit CEO Simon Gillett – after a report reasoned that the economic benefits of Formula 1 coming to the region would outweigh any negative noise disruption.
The Leicestershire venue – previously the scene of the European Grand Prix back in 1993 – was awarded a ten-year contract to welcome Britain's blue riband
motorsport event as of 2010, taking over from its traditional home of Silverstone.
There have since been numerous concerns expressed about Donington's lack of current infrastructure to cope with the high demands of F1, poor access and insufficient time to produce the necessary improvements and modifications to host such a large-profile meeting.
However, an environmental study conducted by track bosses has revealed that whilst there will be more traffic – despite Gillett's desire to have a public transport-only race [see separate story – click here
] – and noise levels will increase in some neighbouring communities by 0.2 decibels due to the re-alignment of the track, financial spin-offs will more than compensate for any such inconveniences.
“The development offers substantial economic opportunities,” Mark Alflat, director of community services at South Derbyshire District Council, is quoted as having said by local newspaper the Derby Evening Telegraph
. “The grand prix has the potential to attract both visitor spend and inward investment.
“New facilities, along with associated developments, will create substantial construction employment opportunities. This would bring new investment and highly-skilled employment opportunities to the area.
“Track revisions will generally be positive, or give rise to only very minor changes. However, there are a small number of areas which could experience notable changes in noise levels.”
North West Leicestershire District Council is due to make a final decision on planning permission on Thursday (January 8), after hearing recommendations from South Derbyshire District Council's environmental committee.
“We are confident we have the planning in the bag,” Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd chief executive Gillett assured.
Should the plans indeed receive final approval, the first phase – due for completion in time for the grand prix – would take in a circuit extension and new pit and paddock complex, as well as a new media centre, medical centre and clubhouse. Phase two, to be completed later, would include the construction of a new main grandstand.