By Matt Gaw
Friday, February 15, 2013
BUILDING on the £14.3million Home of Horseracing National Heritage Centre could begin by next summer, it has been revealed.
Bosses at Forest Heath District Council yesterday gave final approval to the scheme in Newmarket’s High Street, subject to the last piece of funding being ratified.
The centre, which has been described as a “tourist destination for UK and international visitors” would see the restoration of the Palace House Stables and Trainer’s House, and could be open by the second half of 2015.
Warwick Hirst, Forest Heath Cabinet member for Health, Leisure and Culture, said: “This is a truly exciting project which will not only transform the centre of Newmarket but also significantly add to the town’s reputation as the worldwide tourist destination for anything to do with the world of horseracing.
“Over the years there has been a tremendous amount of hard work by the council, as site freeholder and staunch supporter of the project, and those individuals and organisations whose generosity has meant we have achieved the amount needed to start the ball rolling.”
The project, which will provide space for the collections of the British Sporting Art Trust and the Tate, will also become the flagship home for the Retraining of Racehorses charity, allowing the public to watch demonstrations and historic reconstructions.
The site will also see an enlarged library and new permanent galleries.
Peter Jensen, Chairman of the Home of Horseracing Trust, which is raising the funds for the project, said: “This is marvellous next step in realising the dream of creating a national heritage centre in the heart of the town worthy of international recognition and status as the historic home of horseracing.”
He added: “A huge amount of work has been going on behind the scenes to get to this stage and we are extremely excited about moving from planning the project to its delivery – we still have some funds to raise but with 95% secured we really are entering the last furlong with a final push needed to get us over the line. The economic regeneration for Newmarket that this represents really does make it a project for everyone.”
About £13.7m of the £14.3m project cost has been pledged and it is expected that a further £500,000 will be ratified in April.
Along with private donations, £4.25m has been awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Forest Heath has contributed £1.3m while Suffolk County Council has pledged £1m.
Councillors were told that the centre is expected to attract between 40,000 and 50,000 people and provide an annual £1.8m boost to west Suffolk’s economy.
Speaking earlier this week, Matthew Hancock, MP for West Suffolk, praised the team behind the scheme and added:
“It will be a huge boost for Newmarket town centre and cement its place as the global headquarters of racing.”