The stakes in the battle to ensure that Britain hosts a grand prix in 2010 are rising daily – with news today that Donington Park’s local council has not yet received any formal planning application from the circuit.
This follows remarks made by Bernie Ecclestone in which he indicated that if the venue is not ready in time, he will take the race to another country altogether.
He was reported by The Times on Monday as saying: “I am sure they will be ready but, if not, we will sign with another country. There won’t be a British Grand Prix. Pure and simple.” Read full story here.
Comments from a spokesman from North West Leicestershire District Council, made to The Guardian, confirm that no planning application covering the redevelopment has been made – and that his organisation has little experience of handling such an application.
This ups the ante considerably for a scheme that must be fully operational in less than two years if the UK is to retain its spot on the F1 calendar.
The UK planning process can become extremely complicated, especially for a major project that would require infrastructure improvements such as new roads. But Donington Park’s real problems will start if a formal planning inquiry is deemed necessary.
Should this happen, it is arguable the chances of the project being completed within two years will decrease to vanishing point.
However, The Guardian does point out that informal talks have been going on – and it reminds us that any application is not necessarily doomed to face the kind of uphill planning battles that Silverstone and Brand’s Hatch both ran into.
Here’s what it has to say:
Donington yet to put in planning application
No planning applications in respect of the massive task facing the promoters of the 2010 British grand prix in developing Donington Park have yet been submitted to North West Leicestershire district council, adding to speculation that the operators of the circuit will be in a dramatic race against time to get the job completed.
At Sunday’s British grand prix at Silverstone Bernie Ecclestone, the formula one commercial rights holder, threatened to remove the UK race from the calendar altogether if the Donington Park promoters, Simon Gillett and Lee Gill, fail to deliver on their contract to stage the race on what will be a heavily redeveloped circuit designed by Hermann Tilke, the architect who designed the tracks in Malaysia, Bahrain and Shanghai.
“We have not yet actually received the planning application although we have been talking through the project with the race promoters during the phase prior to last week’s official announcement,” said a council spokesman, Ian Hill, yesterday.
“Obviously we have little experience of a project on this scale and once we become involved we will be looking at it from an overall viewpoint, talking to the owners on an ongoing basis. Our approach will be dictated by the need to get things right for such a major global sporting event, while at the same time addressing whatever needs and concerns arise among the local residents.” Read full story here…
Meanwhile, BRDC chairman Damon Hill, charged with overseeing what is expected to be the British Grand Prix’ last appearance at Silverstone next year, has cautioned cynics to remember what is at stake.
He said: “I would certainly not wish to pour scorn on the efforts of any other potential formula one promoters and it would be grossly disrespectful to imply that Bernie Ecclestone would enter into a commercial relationship with anybody who is less than properly serious about their plans.
“As far as Silverstone is concerned, we have just got to continue what we have been doing for the past 50 years, working to the best of our ability for the track and the club. And, who knows, perhaps in five or 10 years there will be an opportunity for Formula One to come back to us.”