Racing circuit hopes to see green light for its business park proposal
THE boss of Donington Park has said plans to create a business park at the circuit for motor sport-related firms are still on track.
Christopher Tate, managing director of the circuit, said North West Leicestershire District Council was currently considering an application for outline planning permission to site the 75,000sq ft development on a section of the paddock.
It would be on the western side, close to the Norton Motorcycles factory, which has been at Donington since 2008.
If permission is granted, Mr Tate said he hoped it would become a haven for businesses involved in the motor sport industry, employing more than 100 people.
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The circuit has already received some expressions of interest from prospective tenants, including a track day operator, a bike racing tyre supplier, an historic race car restorer and a number of smaller companies.
Donington Park Racing, which runs the venue, would also relocate its circuit office, which is near Copse Corner, to the new business park.
Mr Tate said: "It is important that Donington is busy on a day-to-day basis – not just on race days. Aside from activities on the track, we want to make the most of what we have here.
"Norton has been a great success story – and I understand that it wants to expand its factory. We envisage a business park populated with motor sport firms that will have testing facilities right on their doorstep."
Donington first revealed its intention to create a "motor sport village" at the circuit two years ago.
At the time, Donington's owner Kevin Wheatcroft, the son of the circuit's founder, the late Tom Wheatcroft, said the development could be built on the track's infield.
But Donington now has other plans for the infield.
The land is currently being repaired after it was excavated by the circuit's previous operator, Donington Ventures, as part of an ill-fated plan to bring Formula One to the circuit.
It was originally excavated in 2009 to make way for an infield loop. But when the F1 bid failed, the present operators inherited an infield that needed restoring.
The two-year project to repair it started in September and involves reinstating, reshaping and landscaping the spectator areas and the outdoor exhibition areas.
Spectator banks are being created on the infield overlooking the Old Hairpin, Starkey's Bridge and McLeans.
Viewing areas around Coppice Corner, along the main straight and into the Fogarty Esses and the newly-named Roberts Chicane, will also be improved.
Meanwhile, the circuit is constructing new roads to improve access to the infield area, which will eventually host car events and displays for manufacturers and traders. The work is being carried out during the winter break rather than in the racing season.
Mr Tate said: "We are incredibly busy at the moment making improvements. The first phase of the spectator area work is on schedule to be completed in March."