Mixed local opinion on Jockey Club’s 145 homes bid in Newmarket

Hamilton Road development ANL-160712-125520001
Hamilton Road development ANL-160712-125520001

Jockey Club proposals to build more than 140 new homes for racing staff in Newmarket’s Hamilton Road have received a mixed reception from residents.

They were able to view the outline plans and speak to representatives from Bidwells, the project’s manager, at a special consultation session held at the Rowley Mile racecourse on Tuesday.

The proposal is for 145 one, two, and three bedroom, properties built across two neighbouring sites just off Hamilton Road.

One of the sites, Philipps Close, already has housing, some occupied by former Jockey Club staff. If it is developed they will be moved to the new housing.

The site, which will have entrances off Hamilton Road and Churchill Avenue, will remain owned and maintained by Jockey Club Estates.

The company has also proposed that Forest Heath District Council would have nominations rights to any properties forming part of the affordable housing element of the scheme.

Some residents at the consultations were concerned at what they called “double standards” in that Jockey Club Estates, together with representatives of the town’s racing industry, had objected to the proposed Hatchfield Farm development of 400 new homes, later rejected by the Secretary of State.

“If Hatchfield Farm was considered unsuitable by the Horsemen’s Group because of the negative impact around the safety of horses in traffic how can this development in the very heart of racing establishments be any different?” said Jill Voss of King Edward Road.

“Will the Secretary of State have the same view of this development?

“While I appreciate that racing workers need somewhere to live so do the youth of the town not involved in racing.”

Sue Taylor of Drinkwater Close said: “Personally this development won’t have much of an effect where I live but I am concerned about the extra traffic that will be generated in Edinburgh Road and the junction where it meets Hamilton Road as 125 of the new homes will be using that way in.”

Keith Swift has been a resident in one of the existing Jockey Club properties in Philipps Close, which will eventually be demolished as part of the redevelopment, for 44 years. He has seen two previous proposals come and go. “We will eventually be moved into one of the new properties if they are built,” said Mr Swift. “At the moment we have a three-bedroom house with a garage and I know we won’t get that but we’ll have to wait and see.”

Tony Drayton, who lives in Leaders Way said: “Ideally we would not want to see any development on this land, as although a belt of trees will stay, grassland is going to be lost. But this development compared with the last proposal is an improvement as the buildings are not so tall and the development not so dense. There will be a lot of young people living there and getting up early at 5am which could prove to be a disturbance for some living nearby but overall the Jockey Club has listened to what people have said about the previous development plans.” When a similar scheme for a 168-home racing village was proposed back in 2009, some Hamilton Road racehorse trainers joined residents 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 its land specifically for the industry’s employees.”

William Gittus, managing director of Jockey Club Estates, said: “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 these houses. There is a clear and urgent need for this housing so we would like to be in a position to submit an application early in 2017.”