Northants is set to remain the beating heart of the British motorsport industry for years to come – as plans were announced to create more than 8,000 new jobs and 200 new firms at the Silverstone circuit.
The multi-million pound proposals, by estate developer MEPC, were revealed at a presentation to a host of high-performance engineering, automotive and motorsport industries ahead of the British Grand Prix last weekend.
The firm acquired a 999-year interest in Silverstone Park from the British Racing Drivers’ Club in September 2013 and already has some planning consent for the site.
Silverstone Park’s commercial director, Roz Bird, said the major development will create “a global destination for engineering, innovation and business development” in Northamptonshire.
She added: “It will make it the largest science park in the country.”
Ms Bird said much of the new premises will be built beforehand and used to attract firms.
MEPC has already acquired a number of units at the Jordan Innovation Centre on Buckingham Road, owned by former racing team boss Eddie Jordan.
Other premises will be built and designed to the specifications of the businesses relocating there.
But Ms Bird said she had no doubts of attracting enough firms to the site in the ten-year timeframe.
She said: “Silverstone is the ideal location for such a development.
“For one, it’s got a good location.
“It’s close to the M1, airports, and there is good access to the north.
“But mainly it is already in the cluster of businesses we call “motorsport valley.
“There will be some of these companies that want to grow and are excited at the proposition of being at Silverstone.”
She also said the park will be able to trade on the Silverstone name in expanding.
She said: “If you are trading in Malaysia, you could ask someone – do you know Northampton? They would say no.”
“But if you say ‘Silverstone’ they will know.
“Because of the Grand Prix, it is a globally recognised brand.”
Northamptonshire South MP Andrea Leadsom said the 8,000 jobs potentially created by the park expansion is great news for the county’s engineers.
She said: “There is a lot of homegrown engineering talent in Northamptonshire.
“I expect there will be a lot of opportunities for local people at the park.”
While the new park is being branded as a hub for motorsport industries, MEPC is not solely targeting large Formula One teams to locate there.
Ms Leadsom said Silverstone would hopefully become a ‘cluster’ for a number of engineering industries of all sizes.
She said: “There is the possibility for sensor technology, or engineering parts for helicopters.
“All things that are related to high performance engineering, but not necessarily motorsport, will be interested in coming here.”
However the MP said its developers would need to put plans in place to mitigate the impact of extra traffic created by the additional jobs, particularly on the A43 and the Towcester roundabout, which can clog at peak periods.
The Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership will play a vital role in vying to attract firms to take up space at the expanded business park.
Head of investment, Tim Bagshaw, said: “We are very focused on attracting automotive and motorsport firms and some of the technologies that spin out from that.”
“If we can work with our national colleagues at UK Trade and Investment it should have a significant impact on jobs.”