Formula One proposal for former Catesby railway tunnel

An artist's impression of the other buildings and offices plans.
An artist's impression of the other buildings and offices plans.

Early plans have been 
revealed for a new wind tunnel to be built in the Daventry district to help test Formula One cars.

In plans drawn up by Brackley-based firm Aero Research Partners, Catesby tunnel would be transformed to help in the testing of motor vehicles, including F1 cars

The provisional plans could see cars being driven down the tunnel at high speed in order to monitor aerodynamic performance.

Rob Lewis, director at Aero Research Partners, said: “This is a project we have been working on for a number of years.

“There is not a particular reason for choosing the Daventry district, other than this is the only stretch of tunnel within the UK that is long enough for it to work.

“With a tunnel this long, you have a consistent environment where you can fully test a range of motor vehicles.

“It would be very useful as there are a number of motor sport teams within the area who would benefit from a facility such as this.

“It is an incredibly exciting opportunity.”

The tunnel would be used as opposed to alternative testing facilities which include wind being sucked or blown over a static car, or even a model of a static car on an artificial rolling road.

The Catesby Tunnel would not only more accurate, but also far more energy efficient than a conventional wind tunnel which uses vast amounts of electricity.

The Catesby Tunnel was opened in 1897 and operated until 1966 when the Great Central, like many British rail lines in the same period, was closed and abandoned.

Since then the tunnel – which measures just under 3km – has been left vacant, though one rejected proposal could have seen the HS2 rail project routed through the tunnel. The developers have confirmed they will be keeping people in the local area fully up to date with the plans and hope to announce more details on the plans in the near future.

Mr Lewis said: “We have completed a pre-planning process where we have been talking to Daventry District Council and we have been encouraged by the response we have. had

“We now want to inform local people of the plans and hope to have a public meeting in Charwelton in the near future. We are also keeping Catesby parish informed of developments.”

He added that no date has been set for when a public meeting could take place.

Aero Research Partners has also said it could take some time for a full planning application to be submitted.

Mr Lewis added: “It is still in the very early stages at the moment and the plans might change. We will be looking to submit the application between six and 12 months time.”