Saving Silverstone – the Master Plan

The BRDC (British Racing Drivers’ Club) has held a presentation at the British circuit, outlining proposals for a Silverstone ‘Master Plan’. Attendees at the presentation included the Sports Minister, the Rt Hon Richard Caborn MP, and BRDC President Damon Hill along with selected heads of local county councils, planners, higher education authorities and regional development agencies.

With Bernie Ecclestone not guaranteeing Silverstone a spot on the Formula 1 calendar past 2009 – and hinting that that it should share thespot with France – the BRDC’s hope is that their plan will release value from the estate surrounding the track to ensure that the track is financially stable in the future.

The club has said they are prepared to take the plan through the entire planning process using their own resources, however they remain hopeful that the government will provide some funding for the project.

“Our objective,” Hill began, “is to continue with development and improvements to keep up with the incredible pace, not only of grand prix racing, but of development generall in the automotive business. I don’t think you can underestimate the effect the grand prix has on the environment and industries, employment and also on the country.

“We very much hope that, after today, we can move forward to make Silverstone a place we can be really proud of in this country, not just for the BRDC, but also for the UK to beam motorsport and our event around the world.”

The plan includes the development and improvement of the current circuit facilities. New grandstands, pit and paddock facilities, as demanded by Ecclestone, will be first on the list of things to do. The plan also includes the objective of regeneration around the circuit with a science park, manufacturer test centre, hotel and conference centre, and a small residential development all envisioned.

Plans have already been submitted for Porsche Cars GB to develop a facility to help train drivers at the east end of the track. The Silverstone Study Centre has already been open since September 2006.

“Seventy per cent of our business activity is directly attributable to events, of which 85 per cent is grand prix related,” circuit MD Richard Phillips explained. “To change this balance, we have to develop the estate and allow a wider diversification of business types to come to Silverstone.

“Beyond the development, however, it is very necessary for the core business to be allowed to grow and flourish. We must diversify our activities, raise our game with state-of-the-art facilities, excite new audiences to our venue and build a sustainable business in order to minimise the risks associated with the cost of grand prix racing. Only then will we able to afford it, and will UK PLCs benefit.”

The sports minister, Richard Caborn, voiced his views after the presentation. “Silverstone is a world leader in many ways and should not be underestimated,” he commented. “The Master Plan really builds on the Silverstone brand and shows a great deal of potential. It outlines the beginnings of a major centre of excellence that will rank up there with any in the world, helping to ensure the supply chain to this sector is maintained for years to come.

“The Master Plan is not only important to Silverstone and its continued hosting of the British Grand Prix, but also the development of the sport in this country. It gives a real opportunity to British motorsport to realise its ambitions in the not too distant future.”