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Newmarket: Hatchfield Farm plans called-in by secretary of state Eric Pickles after council approval

PUBLISHED: 14:54 13 July 2014 | UPDATED: 14:54 13 July 2014

Hatchfield Farm in Newmarket

Hatchfield Farm in Newmarket

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A long-running saga over plans for 400 homes in west Suffolk has taken another twist after they were called-in by the secretary of state.

Lord Derby’s proposals to build 400 homes in Hatchfield Farm, Newmarket were approved by Forest Heath District Council earlier this month, despite fierce opposition from the horse racing industry.

However, communities and local government secretary Eric Pickles has since decided the application must be examined by an independent planning inspector.

West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock wrote to Mr Pickles urging him to call the application in, and said he was “delighted” with the decision.

“This is very positive news for both Newmarket and the racing industry as a whole,” said Mr Hancock.

“This means the proposal to build on the land can be thoroughly scrutinised, taking into account the national importance of Newmarket and the impact the housing development could have on the horse racing industry.”

The wrangling over Hatchfield Farm has been running since 2010, when plans for 1,200 homes on the site were turned down by Forest Heath and by the secretary of state at appeal.

However, his report found that the larger scheme would have no impact on the horse racing industry from a traffic perspective.

A spokeswoman for Lord Derby said: “We are disappointed at the decision to call in the application. This is particularly surprising given the secretary of state categorically stated that the much larger scheme would have no adverse economic impact.

“This is a blow to all of those people who need homes in Newmarket and the many who have contacted us to give their support in the past week. Newmarket is about people as well as horses - both need to be accommodated in the town.

“We are confident that an independent planning inspector will recognise the benefits of the scheme and the need for local housing in the context of the thriving horse racing industry.”

Last week Godolphin managing director Hugh Anderson told the EADT that “growing urbanisation is a threat to what the industry is trying to achieve in Newmarket”.

He added: ““For 400 years Newmarket has been a superb location for training and breeding racehorses, and we will stay here as huge supporters of the town and the racing industry for as long as that remains the case.”

A report by SQW this year said the horse racing industry is worth more than £200 million to the local economy.

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David Vincent

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EADT writer David Vincent has more than 40 years experience in Suffolk. He has explored the highways and byeways of East Anglia, meeting homeowners, developers and estate agents from Bury St Edmunds to Aldeburgh and Colchester to Diss.