A £3 million flagship development of 21 flats for ex-racing workers suffering from dementia has moved a step closer.
Newmarket-based Racing Welfare has submitted a planning application to build the new apartments in Newmarket’s Howard de Walden Way, close to Jim Joel Court, a sheltered housing scheme for the over 55s also run by the charity.
The proposal has already received the backing of Newmarket Town Council and received positive feedback from a public consultation, and outline planning permission was granted in 2013.
Keith Bovill, housing officer for Racing Welfare, said: “So often racing people suffering with dementia are moved to care homes out-of-town, away from their support network and the things they know.
“Staying in Newmarket and still having contact with horses could be invaluable to them.”
Last year Racing Welfare announced details of a pioneering project, Thoroughpeutics, which aimed to investigate the use of equine therapy as a means of enhancing the wellbeing of people working in racing.
Such therapy had been used successfully to help people suffering from stress, addiction, depression, anxiety and dementia.
The two year pilot project is currently being trialled through a base at the British Racing School with the hope there could, one day be a purpose-built centre in Newmarket.
Mr Bovill said there was a possibility it could link up with the housing project to help residents who had spent their lives working with and around horses.
The planned flats will be run in conjunction with neighbouring Jim Joel Court to allow the sharing of existing communal facilities and gardens. According to a report submitted to the planning authority, Forest Heath District Council, this will “assist in developing a sense of community for the new residents as they will be encouraged to participate in the regular social activities which take place in the Jim Joel Court lounge.”
The report added that as a ‘dementia friendly’ organisation, Racing Welfare recognised that there were increasing numbers of individuals developing dementia and wanted to ensure that its tenants were able to live in their accommodation for as long as possible.”
It said that Racing Homes had an extensive waiting list for retirement accommodation for ex-employees of the racing industry and that the project, if it went ahead, would help to meet this demand.