Home to Lotus for over 50 years, development ensures Hethel remains the heart of Lotus. As the company prepares for the culmination of its 70th celebrations, Lotus has unveiled the latest stage in its investment plan, which will see the 100 acre site undergo extensive development and renovation work.
With a new Customer Experience Centre, Heritage Centre and Museum designed by architects Feilden+Mawson and submitted for planning, the British marque has outlined a bold vision for its future at the famous Hethel facility, its home for over 50 years. 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.
Combining the creation of brand new facilities and the renovation of some of Hethel’s historic sections, the scope of the work perfectly reflects the company’s ambitions going forward. The planning application also includes a spacious, modern new restaurant catering for all staff and visitors to the Lotus site.
Speaking at the unveiling of the plans, Group Lotus’ chief executive officer, Mr. 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 future of Hethel
Dynamic and modern in their design, the plans for Hethel are the next chapter in the story of the famous site. In 1966 Lotus’ founder Colin Chapman reimagined the old WW2 airbase as the company’s headquarters and manufacturing facility that have evolved into the Lotus of today, encompassing all aspects of the modern sports car company.
The new purpose-built Customer Experience Centre will be located alongside the pitlane of the famous test track to create a focal point at Hethel and afford fantastic views across the entire site. Showcasing the Lotus brand and its range of vehicles, it will provide a destination for customers as they develop the specification for, and later return to take delivery of, their vehicles. With a two-storey display area, the building will include private vehicle specification salons and delivery areas, as well as preparation and service facilities.
An impressive Heritage Centre and Museum will also be created, incorporating the site’s original main office and executive suites. This extensive renovation and conversion work will provide a modern space, fit to display a wide range of Lotus vehicles and exhibits. Bringing the original executive suite, including Colin Chapman’s office, to life, the Heritage Centre and Museum will allow visitors and staff to experience the history and heritage at the heart of Lotus.
Alongside the Heritage Centre and Museum, a modern new restaurant facility will extend forward from the existing buildings to create an impressive, and uniform façade. With views over the garden areas of the site, it will provide hospitality facilities for a wide range of activities.
The site’s existing clubhouse (the control tower of the former airbase) will be extensively renovated as part of the plans. Located near the test track, it will incorporate a new roof terrace and modern facilities for track-based activities and customer or staff events.
As well as the new buildings, the development of Hethel will see extensive enhancements and the landscaping of the site, including improvements to access, parking areas for staff and security.
(Press release from Lotus)