Cornwall race track's future 'uncertain' as lease comes to an end

Still of banger racing taken by reporter
Banger racing at United Downs in Cornwall. Credit: ITV News West Country

A stock car racing track in Cornwall says it may have to close if a new lease cannot be agreed.

United Downs Raceway has been operating on land owned by Cornwall Council for 50 years, but the lease runs out at the end of the October.

Race organisers had hoped to secure another 10-year lease, but from November it is being signed over to the Cornish Geothermal Distillery Company.

Co-Promoter for United Downs Raceway Crispen Rosevear says the circuit's future is now uncertain.

Stock Car racing at United Downs Credit: ITV News

''It would just be devastating for the community both locally and nationally," he said.

"The raceway means so much to people that live locally, but it also means a lot for people from the rest of the UK that during the course of the year come and race as well. It's going to have a very, very negative effect on a lot of people.''

Stock car and banger drivers who compete regularly at United Downs say its closure would mean a 120 mile drive to the next nearest track in the South West.

'It will be a massive loss'

Kaylee Spooner explained: ''For us to be able to race we're going to have to travel from the Lizard 150 miles one way.

"We've grown up at the track, I mean I've been coming here 30 years of my life, so it will be a massive loss.''

Cornwall Council says it negotiated a commercial lease arrangement for the council-owned racetrack site, that could see a renewable heat powered distillery built to harness energy generated by the United Downs Deep Geothermal Power project.

An outline planning application for the distillery was refused on October 14th, 2021. 

Raceway promoters told ITV News they hope they may be able to have their lease extended until the distillery project moves forward.

Design for the rum cask maturation facility at United Downs Credit: Grimshaw Architects

In a statement, Cornwall Council said: "The council will work with all partners to help facilitate continued use of the racetrack for 2022 and 2023. 

"Under the terms of the lease, the company has until September 2023 to put in place the component parts of its development.

"This includes gaining planning consent, as well as ensuring the necessary financial and construction plans are in place to support the proposals.''

The Cornish Geothermal Distillery Company told ITV News it had put a proposal forwards to Cornwall Council and is awaiting a response.

In May 2021 CGDC was granted outline planning permission for a separate project called Celsius – the Sustainable Distillery Research Centre – to be built on the hard edge of the former United Downs landfill site, adjacent to where Geothermal Energy Ltd (GEL) will be producing zero carbon, renewable power in 2022.