Kempton Park: New smaller development proposal could save racing

Published 2020/02/05

Racing at Kempton Park could be saved after course owner the Jockey Club reduced the scale of its plans for a housing development on the site.

A 2017 proposal for 3,000 homes would have seen the bulldozing of the track, home to the King George VI Chase.

The Jockey Club and developer Redrow Homes have now offered a revised plan, which would not affect the racecourse.

"We have put forward another option," said Sandy Dudgeon, the senior steward of the Jockey Club. "This would involve just a proportion of the available land there and allow racing to continue."

The Jockey Club's initial proposal for the Surrey track was submitted to Spelthorne Borough Council - the local authority that decides on planning applications - in January 2017.

■ Kempton Park racecourse faces closure to make way for 3,000 homes

As part of the plan, the proceeds of selling the course to a developer, at the time thought likely to be in excess of £100m, were to be reinvested in other courses, including nearby Sandown. But the chances of those plans being approved were reduced significantly after a 2018 assessment by the council suggested the track was "strongly performing" as part of the green belt.

The council's policy on planning applications is covered by its Local Plan.

All local authorities are required by law to have such a plan to guide decisions on planning developments.

Dudgeon added: "We have respected the position of Spelthorne Borough Council throughout their Local Plan process with relation to Kempton Park."

Analysis BBC Racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght

The suggestion that Kempton might be bulldozed rates among racing's most contentious issues of recent years.

Whatever the Jockey Club insisted about ensuring funding for its remaining courses, it wasn't a good look for the organisation founded in the mid-18th century as a custodian of racing to be shutting down a course, and one of the sport's premier National Hunt venues at that.

With the local council never having been a fan of the plans, they probably wouldn't have happened anyway, but campaigners will be cock-a-hoop at this news.

They will be carefully monitoring the alternatives, however.

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