Peter Mullin’s UK Driving Center gets the green light

Peter Mullin’s UK Driving Center

Noted American classic car collector Peter Mullin has received approval to build a $190-million car museum in England's West Oxfordshire, according to the Oxford Mail. Members of the district council's Development Control Committee approved the project in a split 12-7 vote after three and a half hours of debate.

To be called The Driving Centre, the facility will be built on the grounds of a decommissioned RAF base, Enstone Airfield. It has been designed by architect Norman Foster and will feature about 60 vehicles, about half of them from Mullin's personal collection of 250 vintage cars and the other half belonging to those who lease the 28 luxury cottages that will be part of the development.

Mullin, 77, has a private car museum in Oxnard, California, featuring one of the largest collections of vintage Bugattis in the world as well as other classic French cars. He also chairs the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.

In support of the new museum Mullin told the committee, “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.”

In previous remarks, Peter Mullin said, “I have made a 30-year commitment to this project. My great-grandchildren will probably never drive a motor car - at least not as we know it. Instead they will travel in secure autonomous pods by a computer. They will only ever experience the wonder and awe of the automobile by coming to a destination like the Mullin,” referring to his Oxnard museum.

Mullin's application had initially been recommended for refusal back in March but a final decision was put off, allowing him to provide more information and alter the plan to deal with concerns about traffic and congestion. A revised proposal was submitted, cutting the number of planned events in half to five per year, along with a transportation plan that included cyclists, pedestrians, and public buses. The plan also included funding for affordable housing in the community, a car park, and public transit. Five percent of any profit made by the museum will be earmarked for community initiatives.

Local activists had opposed the development, in particular the luxury cottages. District councillor Nigel Colston, said, “The museum is a great idea but has 24 lodges on a brownfield site and four in a greenfield land. This could be anywhere in the UK and doesn’t sit well with my social conscience.”

Former Top Gear personality and the current host of Amazon's The Grand Tour, Jeremy Clarkson, had earlier urged area residents to support the revised plan.

Scheduled to be open six days a week, it's estimated that about 200,000 people would visit the museum annually.