Upgrades for 2010 Britsh GP venue get planning approval
9 January 2009

Donington Park’s plans to host the British Grand Prix from 2010 moved a step closer; Leicestershire council has approved the planning application for the East Midlands circuit’s upgrades.

Work for the £100m project, set to turn Donington Park into a world-class F1 venue, is already underway.

“If you go to the circuit now you'll find an eight- metre deep, 25-metre wide hole across the track. We've got 60 guys and 20 machines already at work,” Donington's CEO Simon Gillett told Autocar at the Autosport show.

Gillett shocked the motorsport community last year when he secured a 10-year deal for Donington to host the British GP from 2010 at the expense of Silverstone.

Both circuits had contracts from Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management on the table and Ecclestone said the first to sign it would get the GP. “I don't know what the terms of [Silverstone's] was but ours was financially viable and I signed it,” said Gillett. “I'm sure they weren't the same.”

The next crucial step is to secure the financing. Donington is chasing a debenture scheme like Wembley Stadium's, where fans and corporates pay up front for seats they'll use in future. Gillett said: “We're framing the final parts of the debenture scheme now and I'm as confident about that as I was about the planning application.”

The target of hosting the British GP in 2010 will be made attainable by the fact that the whole development won't have to be complete by then. A second-phase planning application to finish the venue will go in this summer, including making permanent some of the temporary grandstands.

Matt Prior

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