Horseracing community fears building 400 homes at Hatchfield Farm, Newmarket could threaten future investment

The Hatchfield Farm site in Newmarket

The Hatchfield Farm site in Newmarket - Credit: Archant

A man with 17 years’ experience in Newmarket’s horseracing industry has hit out at its failures to uphold its own safety advice at the Hatchfield Farm planning inquiry.

Andrew Appleby runs a horse transport business, shepherding the likes of the £100million Frankel around the area.

Speaking in support of Lord Derby’s application to build 400 homes at Hatchfield Farm, Newmarket, he told the inquiry that the industry was making the road safety issues worse themselves, whereas the development would see it improved.

The Newmarket Horsemen’s Group, which represents the industry, had previously argued that the perception that horses in Newmarket were being put at risk from motor vehicles by the development was enough to harm future investment.

However, former district councillor Mr Appleby said: “I believe that members of the industry have been oblivious to or chosen to ignore various ways of avoiding and reducing risks for horses and riders.”

The conflict between horses and motor vehicles has formed a large part of the racing industry’s opposition to the homes. It has claimed that the existing situation is already seen in a bad light by investors, with additional traffic on the Rayes Lane horse-crossing from the development increasing the risk of a potentially fatal collision with an expensive racehorse.

Mr Appleby continued: “A particular claim of racing interests is that increased traffic could pose a safety risk to horses and that owners might move horses away and trainers relocate elsewhere.

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“There has been horse/traffic safety conflict during the whole of my 17 years in Newmarket and no doubt before that.

“Of course, we heard last week from William Gittus (managing director at the Jockey Club) that Jockey Club Estates has codes of conduct relating to horse safety, which are not followed or enforced.

“I was surprised to find that Mr Gittus had enthusiastically supported the applications for new stables in Snailwell Road.

“The development of the stables has created a hazard. It would have been best avoided. I am surprised that Suffolk highways did not raise the safety implications.

“I would suggest that the traffic solutions offered as part and parcel of the proposed development give the best, most immediate and economic solution to existing problems as well as immediate future problems.

“My personal observation is that the traffic system in the area would benefit from the Hatchfield proposals.”

The inquiry will continue until Friday this week, when a decision by the inspector is due.