Gallery/video: Riders protest on Newmarket’s Warren Hill against Hatchfield Farm homes plans
17:41 25 June 2014
Key horseracing figures staged a demonstration in Newmarket today to highlight the level of concern over renewed plans for a housing development at Hatchfield Farm.
Leading racehorse training yards assembled together 100 racehorses on Warren Hill with riders wearing high visibility vests with the message ‘No to Hatchfield Farm’.
The trainers involved in the protest included William Haggas, Luca Cumani, James Fanshawe, Jane Chapple-Hyam, Mark Tompkins, William Jarvis, as well as Godolphin stables.
Newmarket Horsemen’s Group, which organised the demonstration, is urging members of Forest Heath District Council’s Development Control Committee not to jeopardise the future of the horseracing industry in the town - which it described as its “most valuable economic asset” - by allowing land at Hatchfield Farm to be developed.
The committee will determine the plans for 400 homes at Hatchfield Farm on Wednesday.
Newmarket Horsemen’s Group warned the commencement of any development at Hatchfield Farm could have a “significant negative impact” on the £200million per year contribution to the local economy generated by the racing and breeding industry, and on the future prosperity of the town as a whole.
William Gittus, chairman of the Newmarket Horsemen’s Group, which represents a range of organisations involved in the horseracing industry in the town, said: “While the current application is for 400 houses, it is our firm belief that allowing any development at Hatchfield Farm will lead, in time, to the number of houses growing and growing and it will be too late to turn the clock back. One should not forget that the initial proposal, which was correctly rejected, was for 1,200 houses.
“In recent years the racing and breeding industry has bucked the overall economic trend and continued to grow in and around Newmarket. But it is a tightrope we walk and the consequences of any significant development at Hatchfield Farm, with the unavoidable accompanying increases in traffic and urbanisation, would compromise the future health and potential for growth of the town’s main industry.”
Rebekah Paczek, spokeswoman for the Hatchfield Farm project, said: “The argument that new housing will have an adverse impact on the horse racing industry is not new; however, the Secretary of State judged that the previous application for 1,200 homes would have no adverse impact. The 400-home development is clearly much smaller with lesser impact but with a similar mitigation package.”
She said the council had identified a need for new homes in Newmarket, adding consultation with hundreds of people in the town had revealed many wanted to buy or rent there, but were unable to do so due to a lack of housing supply.