Racing at Kempton could be assured for the foreseeable future after the Jockey Club announced it has submitted plans for a smaller-scale residential development on part of the racecourse estate.
In January 2017, the Jockey Club unveiled a shock proposal to close the Sunbury venue, with the land submitted for consideration following the local authority’s ‘Call for Sites’ to address unmet local housing needs.
The decision caused huge dismay in the racing world, with trainer Nicky Henderson fearing it would be “a nail in the
National Hunt coffin” if the track were to close.
The initial plans included moving the King George VI Chase to Sandown and building a new all-weather track near Newmarket.
However, Spelthorne Borough Council did not include Kempton on its “preferred options” for consultation at the end of last year and the Jockey Club, along with developer Redrow Homes, has now submitted a revised plan which would not affect the racecourse, alongside the original scheme.
A statement from the Jockey Club explained the new proposal “would involve only previously developed land and would retain all racing facilities to continue as today, including both the jumps course and all-weather track.”
Sandy Dudgeon, senior steward of the Jockey Club, said: “We have respected the position of Spelthorne Borough Council throughout their Local Plan process with relation to Kempton Park.
“Having weighed up the latest information, we have now put forward another option alongside the original full site for their consideration. This would involve just a proportion of the available land there and allow jump and all-weather Flat racing to continue.
“A healthy, sustainable and well-funded sport for the long-term can only be achieved by investing in our sport.
“The need for British racing to raise significant funding to enable this is perhaps even more vital now than when our original proposals were announced.”
Julian Larkin, group planning director of Redrow Homes, added: “The planning representations we have submitted as part of the Local Plan consultation in support of development at Kempton Park emphasise the opportunity that exists to provide high quality new homes in a sustainable location, close to existing transport infrastructure and on previously developed land, in line with National Planning Policy Framework guidelines.
“The new homes would contribute to meeting Spelthorne Borough Council’s identified housing need and help reduce the need to remove land from the Green Belt in less sustainable locations across the borough.
“We look forward to discussing the planning representations with the council and wider community as the Local Plan consultation progresses.”