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Will Brands Hatch try for planning permission again?

Plans to redevelop Brands Hatch racing circuit for Formula 1 use were laid down in 2000 but the application for planning permission, agreed by the local Sevenoaks District Council, were then sent to the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions. The Planning Minister Nick Raynsford decided that the best course of action was a public inquiry and this was due to start in January 2001 but the application was withdrawn when it became clear that a deal had been struck between the owners of Brands Hatch and the British Racing Drivers' Club for the race to be held at Silverstone.

With Brands Hatch now up for sale (and even rumours that it is being acquired by F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone), the issue of planning permission may be raised again, particularly in the light of the fact that the Kent County Council has recently come up with a new strategic plan for sport in the county.

"Kent: The Champion County, the strategic framework for sport in Kent 2003 - 2008" is a new report produced by Kent County Council's Sports Development Unit which calls for the county to "regularly accommodate major events of national and international significance" and that the country should make the best use of the existing facilities. The document also argued that Kent "should be allowed the flexibility to determine its needs and have agreements with national or regional funding bodies to ensure that those needs are met" and that although proximity to London means that Kent does not secure major events, "the location could be an advantage if North West Kent secured high quality facilities able to be used for national and international events".

The planning application made in 2000 called for permission to redevelop existing facilities including partial demolition of existing buildings and erection of pit buildings and paddock, media centre and associated helipads and grandstands, alteration to configuration of both the Indy and Grand Prix circuit together with landscaping, highway works and parking. It proposed a new 15,000 seat grandstand and three temporary grandstands capable of accommodating some 26,000 spectators so that Brands Hatch could accomodate 120,000 people on race day. The proposed redevelopment would mean the loss of 14 hectares of woodland, much of it ancient.