On the future of bankings

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Sir,

Recent publicity regarding the proposed development of a Mercedes-Benz Heritage and Technology Centre at Brooklands has understandably prompted a range of comments relating to the appropriateness of commercial development in a setting of such historic importance. The Committee of the Brooklands Society now feels it must clarify some facts relating to the background of this matter.

All the remaining track (including the Campbell Circuit and the earthworks that support the banking), plus the Members’ Hill in its entirety, are scheduled as Ancient Monuments, which provides them with legal protection from damage or demolition.

In addition, the entire area which DaimlerChrysler have an option to purchase, subject to obtaining planning permission, lies within a conservation area, with the majority also designated as green belt. This means that the developer must demonstrate that their plans will result in an overall enhancement of the area if planning permission is to be granted. There is no suggestion that the proposed development will result in the loss of any track, neither will any such suggestion be entertained.

One of the most difficult decisions faced by the Society today is to form a policy towards any new development. In this case, and in contrast to earlier speculative developments, DaimlerChrysler have positively sought a dialogue with all parties concerned. In seeking to actively exploit their links with racing at Brooklands as a part of their brand marketing, they accept that allowing the decline of the track would be inconsistent with their message.

In addition, we are assured that all existing commercial activities on the track will be removed, and that the sections in DaimlerChrysler ownership will be cleared of vegetation, debris and buildings. Additional flood mitigation measures should help provide much needed protection to the Museum site. The Brooklands Society continues to work with the developer to ensure that these assurances become firm and enforceable conditions of any planning permission. We are also pleased to be working with them on the development of a detailed and comprehensive site conservation plan, requested by English Heritage.

Commercial development over the years has resulted in the loss or fragmentation of a number of parts of the circuit. This has been documented elsewhere, notably by Motor Sport in the April 2001 issue. Nevertheless, the majority of the track remains. Brooklands is not dead as many would have us believe. Wounded? Yes, but enough remains, in the view of the Brooklands Society, the Museum Trust and, critically, DaimlerChrysler to perhaps allow us one day to really show off what a remarkable asset we all share. In co-signing this letter, DaimlerChrysler are further reinforcing their stated commitment to helping us preserve this, the oldest purpose-built motor racing circuit in the world. On behalf of those who have invested so much time, physical effort and emotional capital in this extraordinary place, we trust that this commitment will be honoured.

If you want to join the Brooklands Society, visit our website at www.brooklands.org.uk or telephone 01737 217221. Also, we also strongly recommend a visit to the Museum (tel: 01932 857381).

We are, Yours Etc, Nick Plane, for the committee of the Brooklands Society, & Peter O’Halloran, Project Director, DaimlerChrysler UK

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