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Starting phases of ambitious Lotus expansion plan to be decided

PUBLISHED: 08:46 07 November 2018 | UPDATED: 09:00 07 November 2018

An artists' impression of the new customer experience centre planned by Lotus at its Hethel headquarters. Picture: Feilden+Mawson.

An artists' impression of the new customer experience centre planned by Lotus at its Hethel headquarters. Picture: Feilden+Mawson.

Archant

Ambitious plans to transform the Lotus factory into a must-see destination for motor enthusiasts could be given the green light by councillors today.

Two planning applications surrounding the Hethel site go before South Norfolk Council on Wednesday, which are both recommended for approval.

The overall scheme was put forward in four separate planning applications, with the first two of these being placed under consideration at the meeting.

The heritage brand, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, will discover whether it can add a roof terrace to one of its existing buildings, known as the clubhouse which overlooks the site’s test track.

The aim of this is to provide visitors with a full view of vehicles using the track, along with a 360 degree perspective of the site.

Lotus is to also discover whether the council’s planning committee approves of plans to build a new ‘customer experience’ building on site.

Both applications have been recommended for approval by council officers, though they have also signalled for restrictions to be placed on the test track.

These restrictions, however, would only apply to uses relating to the customer experience building - as opposed to its use solely for testing vehicles.

Tim Barker, the officer who prepared the committee report, said it would not be appropriate to bring in blanket restrictions.

If Mr Barker’s recommendations are followed, permission would be granted for both the customer experience building and the viewing platform.

However, plans for a heritage museum celebrating the 70-year history of the company have not been included in the meeting’s agenda.

Mr Barker wrote: “The proposed development will not have an adverse impact on the countryside and, with appropriate conditions relation to use of the test track, will not adversely affect the amenities of nearby residents.”

The vision for the site was unveiled earlier this year as part of the brand’s 70th anniversary celebrations.

It was revealed in the planning application that should the entire scheme be a success it will create 20 new jobs, 14 full-time positions at the museum and a further six posts in the customer base.

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