Jockey Club plans for new homes for racing workers in Newmarket under fire
Nearly 100 residents packed into a meeting of Newmarket Town Council’s planning committee – the majority to object to a Jockey Club Estates plan to build 145 homes for racing workers in the town.
Such was the turnout that Monday’s meeting had to be moved from its usual venue in the council chamber into the main hall.
Town council planners who were being asked for their views on the application were left in no doubt as to the strength of feeling against the scheme and the committee agreed it would object to the proposal.
William Gittus, group property director for the Jockey Club and planning adviser to Jockey Club Estates (JCE), which owns the two sites, both off Hamilton Road, on which the homes are planned, said one site would have 62 homes and a warden-controlled block for 20 young people, while Philipps Close, which currently has 30 homes, would be redeveloped to provide 83 new properties. He told the meeting all the properties would be let to racing workers and managed by the Jockey Club and the town-based charity Racing Welfare.
Tackling concerns raised about traffic he said only 25 of the new homes would be accessed via nearby Churchill Avenue and said most residents of the new development would be travelling outside peak time.
Former town mayor Keith Bovill, of Drinkwater Close, said there were already traffic issues in Hamilton Road and the additional traffic created would be an issue for both pedestrians and racehorses trained in the area.
He said the new development would overlook Drinkwater Close, causing a loss of privacy.
Ray Bolton, former finance officer for Forest Heath District Council, who lives in Edinburgh Road, said there had been a ‘lack of clarity’ on the changes to road layouts to deal with the amount of new traffic,which he put at around 300 vehicles, particularly at the junction of Hamilton Road with Edinburgh Road.
Solicitor Nick Longford of Hamilton Road, accused Jockey Club Estates, which objected to plans for 400 homes at Newmarket’s Hatchfield Farm of hypocrisy.
“It seems that the people of Newmarket are lesser folk than the racing industry,” he said.
Cllr Mick Jefferys, who lives in Churchill Avenue, proposed the committee object to the scheme.
He said his concerns included highways safety, over-development and loss of biodiversity which, he added, had been highlighted by planning authority West Suffolk Council’s own ecology and landscape officer who said there was insufficient compensatory planting planned for the large number of trees which would be felled.
Cllr Sarah Caesar said the plan represented a ‘short term solution for a long term housing problem’ and Cllr Chris O’Neill, who dismissed a suggestion by mayor Cllr Rachel Hood for a site visit with residents, said: “The big difference between this and Hatchfield Farm is that this application could actually be detrimental to the racing industry.”
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More by this authorDan Barker