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Brands Hatch gets planning permission

BRANDS HATCH LEISURE has been granted planning permission to redevelop the Kentish racing circuit into a Formula 1 specification facility. The Sevenoaks District Council voted 12 to six last week that the development should be allowed to go ahead so that the track will be ready to host the British Grand Prix in 2002. BHL intends to spend around $30m on the work and says that everything will be ready within a year.

The company still has to wait for the government to raise no objections to the planning permission. The application will have to be agreed by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions John Prescott. He is expected to give a decision by August and if all goes well work will start immediately.

The Sevenoaks Council agreed to let the work go ahead because of the substantial benefits and financial investment, tourism and jobs that the Grand Prix would generate. Brands Hatch says that although some trees will need to be cut down to make way for the new track, it will plant five times as many as are being chopped down.

Although Brands Hatch now appears to be in a good position to hold the British GP in 2002, many people in F1 do not understand how the race can possibly make financial sense given the cost of the fee being asked for by the Formula 1 authorities and the costs of the rebuilding work. It is however very hard to imagine that a company such as Interpublic, which owns Brands Hatch Leisure, would not have done the necessary calculations before agreeing to buy the track.

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