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Silverstone unveils development plan

The start of the 2007 British Grand PrixSilverstone has unveiled details of the redevelopment plan that it hopes will secure its place on the Formula One calendar long-term.

The circuit has been under pressure to update its facilities for many years, with Bernie Ecclestone regularly reiterating that the British Grand Prix's future was dependant on Silverstone carrying out a substantial revamp.

Planning documents have now been released on the South Northamptonshire Council website and have been displayed in nearby towns so that local residents can be consulted on the project.

The plans include two new hotels, a conference and exhibition centre, a new advanced technology park and residential housing on land around the circuit. New educational facilities will also be built in Silverstone's grounds, along with leisure and tourism facilities in the surrounding woodland.

The track layout itself remains unchanged, but there is a possibility that the all-new pit and paddock complex could be moved to the straight between Club and the Abbey chicane. The plans list two potential options for the new pit area, with the current location between Woodcote and Copse also under consideration.

Local authorities expressed their support for the plans earlier this month.

"We are very proud to have Silverstone in our district and want to do all we can to enhance its reputation by improving the facilities," said portfolio holder for economic development, Councillor Mary Clarke.

"Future development must support Silverstone as the home of the British Grand Prix and as a motor sport venue generally. We are interested in what people think of these plans and will take all comments into account and make changes to the brief if necessary."

Aylesbury Vale District Council's Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning, Councillor Carole Paternoster, added: "A large part of the Silverstone circuit falls within AVDC's boundaries and the council has a keen interest in what happens there.

"The F1 British Grand Prix weekend is just one of the many events held at Silverstone each year but its contribution alone to the local economy is estimated at around 40 million. The loss of this race would also jeopardise the viability of the circuit in the longer term and the many local jobs it supports.

"Improvements have to be made to the circuit and the facilities at Silverstone to secure the future viability of the site and retain the F1 British Grand Prix in future years. There are some very exciting new proposals being put forward within the AVDC area, including a science park and education campus."

In recent months Silverstone has been subject to a number of bids from companies keen to carry out their own development plans at the track, but circuit owner the British Racing Drivers' Club has remained committed to its own 'masterplan' for the venue's future.

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