Lydden Hill has been granted planning permission for a new £5.5million upgrade, which could eventually bring the World Rallycross Championship back to the track.
The British facility, dubbed ‘The Home of Rallycross’, has been seeking permission for the works for some time, but faced opposition from local authorities and residents.
The previous application, filed in 2018, was rejected amid concerns it would cause ‘significant harm’ to the local area, but a new filing heard this week has been approved.
According to Kent Online, before the plans were heard by the local authorities there were 964 letters in support of the scheme, with just 85 against it.
Under the plans, Lydden Hill will build a new building housing a VIP center, circuit offices, a medical center, and pit garages.
It will also invest in a new, wider access road with all of the works carefully planned to fit in with the natural surroundings of the area.
The track is aiming to increase its number of events, with a more diverse roster of activities planned, but noise restrictions will remain. £25,000 will be spent on new noise monitoring technology that will provide real-time data to the local council.
According to the circuit’s planning application, noise levels on motorsport days will remain at ‘24 days of 55bB LAeq and 26 days of 50dB LAeq with the existing operating hours and restrictions’. Additional days will be 52 days a year at 45dB LAeq and no more than 52 days a year at 40dB LAeq.
The track currently attracts 50,000 visitors each year, employing between 23-27 staff on a full-time basis, but is expecting to increase visitor numbers to 89,000 and its staff numbers to 78 following the improvements.
The local economy will also benefit, with the track set to spend £400,000 on local goods and services – up from £250,000. Half of Lydden Hill’s visitors come from outside the area, and they will provide £2.63million through accommodation and spending an additional £1.4million locally when visiting the track each year.
The news of Lydden Hill’s long-awaited redevelopment raises the question of whether the World Rallycross championship will return to the track.
The circuit lost the British round of the World Championship in 2018 when it swapped to Silverstone, a move that was met with a wave of fan discontent that remains to this day.
The SpeedMachine event, which added a music festival, manufacturer test drives, and street food, lasted just two years at the British Grand Prix Formula 1 venue, with high costs of renting the facility being behind its axing.
As a result, 2020 will be the first World Rallycross season since its inception to not feature a round on British soil.