Horseracing industry ‘confident’ Newmarket Hatchfield Farm 400 houses will be denied despite High Court decision

A public demonstration against the Hatchfield Farm housing plans for Newmarket outside Forest Heath

A public demonstration against the Hatchfield Farm housing plans for Newmarket outside Forest Heath District Council offices in Mildenhall. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

Rural villages around Newmarket have welcomed a judge’s decision to quash a refusal of 400 homes in Newmarket, but the long running planning debate is far from over.

The Hatchfield Farm site in Newmarket. Picture: TUDOR MORGAN-OWEN

The Hatchfield Farm site in Newmarket. Picture: TUDOR MORGAN-OWEN - Credit: Archant

The Hatchfield Farm dispute over Lord Derby’s plan for houses in Newmarket has rumbled on for years, with the latest application originally approved by Forest Heath District Council in 2014.

On Tuesday a High Court judge overturned the decision by the Secretary of State for local government, Sajid Javid, to deny the houses.

The Government will now have to issue a new decision. This does not mean the houses have been granted permission.

With a general election called for June 8, the likelihood of a decision being made before the year is out is small, with the 2015 general election delaying the previous decision for more than a year.

Representatives of Lord Derby, backed by the Rural Parishes Alliance of 15 councils around the town, has fought for the houses to be built.

High Court rules in favour of Lord Derby’s plans for 400 homes at Hatchfield Farm

Bill Rampling, Moulton Parish Council chairman and member of the alliance, said: “We are pleased with the decision but understand that it will still go on and on.

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“We need houses being built on sustainable locations near to where the houses are needed. Hatchfield is a sustainable site and these houses should be built.”

He said the homes would also help rejuvenate a “dieing” high street and ease pressure on surrounding villages.

The houses have been vociferously objected to by the horseracing industry, represented by the Newmarket Horsemen’s Group.

William Gittus, chairman of the horsemen’s group, said he remained “confident” that the Secretary of State will deny the houses.

The group’s case has relied on the basis that increased traffic could increase the risk of horses being harmed. The High Court rejected this, stating the Secretary of State had gone against government policy.

Matt Hancock, parliamentary candidate for the West Suffolk constituency and MP since 2010, lobbyed the Government to call in the decision in 2014.

He said: “I’ve always argued that the proposal is inappropriate and support the Secretary of State’s decision.

“I support a strong and vibrant future for Newmarket which means making sure we support jobs in the town.”

Forest Heath District Council, who denied an original application for more than 1,000 homes for the same site, have supported Lord Derby’s 400-home application.

A council spokeswoman said: “This decision means that the Secretary of State, can now revisit the resolution to approve made by Forest Heath in 2014 and upheld by the planning inspector.

“We look forward to hearing if he is minded to approve or refuse the application, or whether he wants to take another course of action first.”

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