Kempton Park Racecourse has been saved from the bulldozers after the Jockey Club slimmed down plans for a housing development on the site. The reprieve comes after the Jockey Club put forward a smaller scale residential development option for Kempton Park than had initially been proposed. If the new plans are accepted, both Jumps and All-Weather Flat Racing would continue at the Sunbury-on-Thames venue, which hosts the prestigious King George meeting every Boxing Day.

In January 2017, the Jockey Club agreed for the racecourse site to be submitted for consideration into Spelthorne Borough Council’s Local Plan process. The Borough has an independently-assessed need for the development of more than 15,000 homes in the community, at a time when British horseracing is in need of major funding in order to grow and improve its long-term prospects. These unique set of circumstances were behind the challenging decision by the Jockey Club’s Board of Stewards to put the Kempton Park site forward for consideration for redevelopment. This allows for any or all of the site to be considered for use and no specific planning application has been made. 

Racing facilities retained

While the Stewards were aware the proposal would be met by opposition, they determined the long-term upside for the sport of major investment outweighed the downside impact of these proposals, while also providing benefit to the local community. The Local Plan process continues and a new submission at the Preferred Options Consultation stage has now seen a much smaller part of the site highlighted by the Jockey Club and Redrow Homes for the Council’s consideration, alongside the original proposals.  This 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. The objective of the proposal remains to attempt to secure much-needed funding to invest in British Racing, while helping to meet stated local housing targets within the Borough, the Jockey Club said.

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.”

Sustainable location

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.”

As has been the case since the original announcement three years ago, it remains business-as-usual at Kempton Park and for The Jockey Club’s hardworking and dedicated team running the racecourse, led by General Manager, Steve Parlett. 

Image Courtesy of the Jockey Club