Essex showground owner John Holmes is taking legal action in his bid to create his own racetrack.

He plans to build Britain's first new race track for 70 years at the Great Leighs showground near Braintree.

However, the Great Leighs bypass route will cut a swathe through a vital part of the site and could signal the end of his plans and leave the Essex County Show and the Young Farmers Show without a home.

And lost television rights and betting commissions, as well as the value of the site and its existing uses could reach tens of millions.

In a bid to prevent this Mr Holmes has asked a High Court judge to grant a judicial review against Essex County Council's plans.

Since buying the site five years ago he has worked to develop the showground, building up the equestrian centre and revamping the Essex County Show.

Although aware the bypass was agreed by public inquiry in 1990, he said, the racetrack was planned after the Government axed all bypass schemes.

Now he is calling on the council to look at other options including placing a compulsory purchase order on nearby gravel working land so it can be incorporated into the showground allowing his plan to go ahead.

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