Newmarket: Hatchfield Farm plans approved - but final decision rests with Government

Horses ride on Warren Hill, protesting against the Hatchfield Farm housing development in Newmarket last week. Horses ride on Warren Hill, protesting against the Hatchfield Farm housing development in Newmarket last week.

Thursday, July 3, 2014
12:05 AM

Controversial plans for up to 400 homes at Hatchfield Farm in Newmarket have been approved by councillors however the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government may now call in the application.

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Last night Forest Heath District Council’s development control committee deliberated over Lord Derby’s proposal, which the horseracing industry in Newmarket strongly opposes, before voting 10/5 in favour.

The outline planning application for up to 400 homes, associated open space and two new accesses onto the A142 (Fordham Road) is a scaled-back version of a previous application for up to 1,200 homes, which was refused both by the council and then the Secretary of State at appeal.

The committee was told by the council’s lawyer that should they approve the Hatchfield Farm application, which includes 120 affordable homes, the Secretary of State reserved the right to call it in.

Speaking after the committee’s decision, William Gittus, chairman of the Newmarket Horsemen’s Group, which represents a range of horseracing industry organisations, said: “Now the Secretary of State has an opportunity to call it in which clearly I hope he will do.”

The officer’s report to the committee recommended the application was approved, subject to a section 106 agreement.

It said on the basis of the evidence submitted “there is no evidence to suggest that the proposed development would harm the horseracing industry”.

Many objections against the plans were raised by those involved in all aspects of the horseracing industry, council officer Philippa Kelly said, with concerns around the long-term effects on the industry, and extra traffic and infrastructure.

More than 100 representations were submitted raising issues and objections, yet only one letter of support was received. Newmarket Town Council was amongst those who objected.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Hugh Anderson, MD of Godolphin and a director of Darley Stud, said: “Newmarket has all the facilities a top owner and breeder could possibly want, but these facilities are being put under increasing risk as the town becomes more urbanised.”

He said it was “virtually impossible” to provide evidence of the scheme’s adverse impact on the industry as it was yet to happen, but: “If you want evidence look at the people in the gallery, in the room next door, standing outside and protesting.”

Councillor Simon Cole said he could not see the plans harming the horseracing industry in the town, adding: “I think in times of austerity it’s time to put people ahead of the horse in Newmarket.”

Councillor Andy Drummond, however, felt the application was “premature”. Traffic was also deliberated upon heavily during the discussion.

As well as affordable homes, other benefits from the scheme include a site for a primary school and contributions towards highways improvements.

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