The UK is set to get an ambitious new classic car museum in the Cotswolds after renowned collector Peter Mullin’s plans were finally approved after an 18-month battle.
Mullin already owns the prestigious Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard, California, and has long been seeking to open a UK version near Chipping Norton in West Oxfordshire.
But while plenty of enthusiasts were excited by the proposal, which will see up to 200 classic cars housed at the museum, more than 180 objections were made, many of them by locals living near the proposed site.
The first application was withdrawn in September 2018, but new designs were drawn up in November by world-famous architect Norman Foster’s Foster + Partners firm and submitted to West Oxfordshire District Council.
And the council has now granted outline planning permission for the facility, which also includes a demonstration track, pavilion and 28 holiday lodges, deciding in its favour by 12 votes to seven.
The Driving Centre, as it is to be called, will be based at a brownfield site called Enstone Airfield and Mullin hopes it will have benefits for the entire local community.
Speaking at the planning meeting, he said, “The project has a huge opportunity, particularly in this gorgeous area of the Cotswolds, to create a number of positive things – both in education and visitor appreciation.
“The automobile and Great Britain are indivisible. Its impact on our modern way of life is immeasurable.
“Our goal is to create jobs, generate significant business rates and taxes and most of all to leave a legacy for the generations of the future.”
The plans were due to be rejected for a second time in March this year, but the decision was deferred and multiple alterations have since been made in order to address the various complaints.
Among those changes, the number of events has been reduced to five per year and a new travel plan has been proposed, which will encourage visitors to reach the site by foot, bike and on a shuttle bus.
Significant changes were also made back in November, with the complex reduced in size by 15% and with a £1.7million local investment in housing also promised.
Mullin is particularly known for his impressive collection of pre-war Bugattis and other Art Deco cars from the 1920s and ’30s; among the classics housed in his California museum are a Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic that was named the best car in the world last year.
It is not yet known which cars will be included in the new museum, but the plans state that around 30 of Mullin’s own classics will feature alongside many more from other collections in the UK and around the world.