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Norfolk carmaker Lotus reveals major plans to turn Hethel base into global destination

PUBLISHED: 11:06 28 September 2018 | UPDATED: 13:49 28 September 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.

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Legendary Norfolk carmaker Lotus has today unveiled plans for a new multi-million pound expansion which aims to transform its Hethel site into a global destination for fans.

The new Lotus clubhouse planned by Lotus at its Hethel headquarters. Picture: Feilden+Mawson.The new Lotus clubhouse planned by Lotus at its Hethel headquarters. Picture: Feilden+Mawson.

The plans include a customer experience centre, heritage centre and museum on the site - with the company committing that Norfolk will remain at the heart of Lotus.

The plans were unveiled just ahead of the company’s 70th celebrations in Norfolk, marking the anniversary of the founding of Lotus by engineering genius Colin Chapman.

Work at the 100-acre site will include the building of new facilities and the renovation of some of Hethel’s historic sections.

The planning application also includes a spacious, modern new restaurant catering for all staff and visitors to the Lotus site.

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.

Speaking at the unveiling of the plans, Group Lotus’ chief executive officer Feng Qingfeng said: “The progress of these developments at Hethel demonstrates our commitment to Lotus and its bright future. Hethel is rightly the centre of the brand and what better place for customers, aspiring owners and staff to experience our values?

Hethel is, and will always be, the heart of Lotus and our plans are the next step in readying the site for the next 50 years.”

‘The next chapter’

The new purpose-built customer experience centre will be alongside the pitlane of the famous test track, and is designed to be a focal point at Hethel with impressive views across the entire site.

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

It will showcase the Lotus brand and its range of vehicles, and is intended to be a destination for customers as they choose the specification of their Lotus and then return to take delivery of it.

It will include a two-storey display area and include private vehicle specification salons and delivery areas, as well as preparation and service facilities.

The company describes the plan as “dynamic and modern... the next chapter in the story of the famous site”.

Hethel became the home of Lotus in 1966 when founder Colin Chapman began enacting his vision of turning the former Second World War airbase into the marque’s headquarters and manufacturing facility.

Heritage centre and museum

The heritage centre and museum will incorporate the site’s original main office and executive suites.

This renovation and conversion will allow the company to display a wide range of Lotus vehicles and exhibits.

It will bring the original executive suite, including Colin Chapman’s office, “to life, says the company, while allowing visitors and staff “to experience the history and heritage at the heart of Lotus”.

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

Alongside the heritage centre and museum, a new restaurant will extend forward. It will have views over the garden areas of the site and provide hospitality facilities for a range of activities.

The site’s existing clubhouse, which was the control tower of the former airbase, will also be overhauled and incorporate a new roof terrace and modern facilities for track activities and customer or staff events.

As well as the new buildings, the development of Hethel will see enhancements and the landscaping of the site, including improvements to access, parking areas for staff and security, said Lotus.

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