Motoracing: Silverstone to get £600m facelift

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The Independent Online

Silverstone could be the subject of a £600m redevelopment over the next four years - but only if its owner, the British Racing Drivers' Club, can agree terms with a partner and get their membership to agree to proposals currently being circulated.

The plan is to invest in commercial redevelopment of the circuit, styled as the "Home of British Motorsport". After prolonged arguments with the Formula One commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone in recent years, the BRDC last December agreed a controversial five-year extension of its deal to run the British Grand Prix.

In the past, Ecclestone has dismissed the venue as a dilapidated house in need of more than just redecoration. The proposals, which were outlined to the club's 800 members in the latest internal bulletin, are part of the terms of the contract with Ecclestone.

The BRDC now needs a partner to handle the redevelopment and to operate the 800-acre site on a 125-year lease. They are being advised by KPMG Corporate Finance, which plans to select a preferred bidder later this month.

The BRDC chairman, Stuart Rolt, admitted in a written address to members: "I fully understand the emotional attachment that so many members feel to Silverstone," but warned: "The existing model will not support the club's objectives of keeping the British Grand Prix and optimising members' facilities at the circuit."

A BRDC insider said yesterday: "This has been in the pipeline ever since the new deal with Bernie was agreed. And it is just the first tentative step in seeking a redevelopment partner.

"There remain two hurdles; the first is that we have yet to identify a suitable partner, and the second is that the deal still has to be ratified by the 500 voting members at an extraordinary general meeting later this year. Until then, it is all academic."