Jockey Club plan to build homes for Newmarket’s racing workers

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Proposals to try to address the current lack of affordable housing available for hundreds of racing workers in Newmarket have been unveiled by the Jockey Club.

But the organisation could face opposition when it submits its plans to build 145 new homes across two sites just off the town’s Hamilton Road.

When a similar scheme for a 168-home racing village was proposed back in 2009 some racehorse trainers joined residents of Churchill Avenue, Leaders Way, Drinkwater Close and Hamilton Road in voicing their objections because of concerns about increased traffic.

But the new proposal already has the support of the Newmarket Trainers’ Federation whose chairman Mark Tompkins said: “The lack of housing that is both suitable and within the means of racing staff is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges we face and it is excellent news that Jockey Club Estates is planning to develop housing on their land specifically for the industry’s employees.

“We have the good news that more and more owners want to have horses trained here in Newmarket, where the facilities and support services are second to none. However, as trainers we are really struggling to attract and retain quality staff and the over-riding reason is the lack of availability of suitable housing.”

The sites earmarked for the new development are both owned by the Jockey Club. Philipps Close has housing already and will be re-developed, and the other site has an historic allocation for racing housing dating back to the 1995 Local Plan.

William Gittus, managing director of Jockey Club Estates, said: “We have been working up plans in tandem with the Local Plan process to build much needed accommodation for racing staff. The proposal is to build one, two and three bed properties, all of which will be subject to a racing-related occupancy restriction.”

He said if homes were built they would be owned, let and managed by Jockey Club Estates with the proposal that Forest Heath District Council’s housing department would have nomination rights to any dwellings that form the affordable housing element of the scheme.

“There is a clear and urgent need for this housing, so we would like to be in a position to submit an application in early 2017,” said Mr Gittus. “In the meantime, we will be setting up a focus group to assist the architects in producing designs that will suit the specific needs of staff working in the racing industry.

“We are excited about this scheme which we believe will benefit the town of Newmarket and the local economy, as well as the racing industry staff who will occupy the houses.”