Lake Tor­rent track hits plan­ning snag

Autosport (UK) - - CONTENTS - STEPHEN LICK­O­R­ISH

“EV­ERY­ONE NEEDS TO WORK TO­GETHER TO SEIZE THIS OP­POR­TU­NITY”

LAKE TOR­RENT

The fu­ture of the pro­posed £29mil­lion Lake Tor­rent cir­cuit in North­ern Ire­land has been thrown into ma­jor doubt af­ter the de­vel­oper be­hind the project went into re­ceiver­ship last week.

Some ini­tial ground­work on the cir­cuit, lo­cated 40 min­utes’ drive from Belfast and planned for com­ple­tion by the end of 2019, was car­ried out last year but progress then be­gan to stall. The de­lays were caused by a plan­ning is­sue re­gard­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of old mi­ne­shafts be­ing on the site, which was for­merly a quarry.

Mat­ters came to a head last week when back­ers of the project re­fused to pro­vide promised funds un­til the plan­ning is­sue is re­solved. That led to Manna De­vel­op­ments – the firm be­hind the cir­cuit – en­ter­ing re­ceiver­ship.

In a state­ment, Manna said: “While this is a dis­ap­point­ing de­vel­op­ment, it has not come as a sur­prise. Fund­ing re­mains in place to de­liver Lake Tor­rent but, as is the case with any loan, there are con­di­tions which re­late to the re­lease of funds.

“Un­for­tu­nately the chal­lenges in re­solv­ing one par­tic­u­lar plan­ning is­sue have been such that it hasn’t been pos­si­ble to ful­fil the rel­e­vant con­di­tions. Our fund­ing part­ner is aware of the sta­tus of the plan­ning, but re­mains com­mit­ted to mak­ing the funds avail­able.

“The MP for the area is en­tirely aware of the plan­ning con­di­tion, which has caused such de­lay, and has been work­ing dili­gently to try and bring a res­o­lu­tion for the ben­e­fit of Manna De­vel­op­ments, Lake Tor­rent and the peo­ple of North­ern Ire­land, not least those in his con­stituency. Like us, he is hope­ful that mat­ters can be re­solved quickly. Ev­ery­one needs to work to­gether to seize this once-in-al­ife­time op­por­tu­nity to re­ally fur­ther en­hance North­ern Ire­land’s rep­u­ta­tion on the global mo­tor­sport stage.”

Ben Will­shire, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Driven In­ter­na­tional – the firm that de­signed the cir­cuit’s lay­out – added: “On our side we were wait­ing for an up­date from Manna De­vel­op­ments. We’ve pre­pared all the draw­ings for the FIA and FIM, but weren’t ac­tively work­ing on the project and were wait­ing on the next steps. We’ve done all we can to help and it’s a shame be­cause I think the project has got huge po­ten­tial.”

The cir­cuit had signed a three-year con­tract to host a round of World Su­per­bikes, but the series will in­stead visit Don­ing­ton Park next year.

Lake Tor­rent cir­cuit has hit money prob­lems

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