RACING at Kempton could be assured for the foreseeable future after the Jockey Club announced it has submitted plans for a smaller-scale residential development on part of the racecourse estate.
It is over three years since the Jockey Club unveiled a shock proposal to close the Sunbury venue – home of the iconic King George VI Chase on Boxing Day – to help the local authority meeting local housing needs.
The initial plans included moving the King George VI Chase, won by the Paul Nicholls-trained Clan Des Obeaux for the past two years, to Sandown and building a new all-weather track near Newmarket.
However, Spelthorne Borough Council did not include Kempton on its “preferred options” for consultation at the end of last year and the Jockey Club, along with developer Redrow Homes, has now submitted a revised plan which would not affect the racecourse, alongside the original scheme.
A statement from the Jockey Club explained the new proposal “would involve only previously developed land and would retain all racing facilities to continue as today, including both the jumps course and all-weather track”.
Sandy Dudgeon, senior steward of the Jockey Club, said: “We have respected the position of Spelthorne Borough Council throughout their Local Plan process with relation to Kempton Park.
“Having weighed up the latest information, we have now put forward another option alongside the original full site for their consideration. This would involve just a proportion of the available land there and allow jump and all-weather Flat racing to continue.
“A healthy, sustainable and well-funded sport for the long-term can only be achieved by investing in our sport.
“The need for British racing to raise significant funding to enable this is perhaps even more vital now than when our original proposals were announced.”
Julian Larkin, group planning director of Redrow Homes, added: “The planning representations we have submitted as part of the Local Plan consultation in support of development at Kempton Park emphasise the opportunity that exists to provide high quality new homes in a sustainable location, close to existing transport infrastructure and on previously developed land, in line with National Planning Policy Framework guidelines.
“The new homes would contribute to meeting Spelthorne Borough Council’s identified housing need and help reduce the need to remove land from the Green Belt in less sustainable locations across the borough.
“We look forward to discussing the planning representations with the council and wider community as the Local Plan consultation progresses.”
Meanwhile all eyes will be on Shishkin as Nicky Henderson’s exciting young performer bids to boost his Cheltenham prospects in the Betway Sidney Banks Memorial Novices’ Hurdle at Huntingdon today.
The six-year-old is already ante-post favourite for the Festival opener, the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, on the back of an impressive victory at Newbury.
Henderson sees the Listed contest over two miles, three and a half furlongs as the ideal prep for the Supreme. “I think he is a good horse, now he has got to go and do it again,” he said. “He has done everything right.”
Pacify, co-owned by the Duchess of Cornwall, signed off with second place behind the Emma Lavelle-trained Hang In There at Cheltenham after chalking up a five-timer culminating in a Listed win at Kempton.
The two square up again and Jamie Snowden, trianer of the Royal runner, said: “He’s in great order and we’re looking forward to it.”