Newmarket: Changed Hatchfield Farm plans lodged in controversial homes bid

THE man behind plans for 1,200 new homes in Newmarket - a proposal which opponents fear could spell disaster for the home of horseracing - says he has adjusted the scheme to tackle traffic fears, the EADT can reveal.

A Public Inquiry is set to be held into Lord Derby’s bid to develop his 160-acre Hatchfield Farm site in Newmarket in less than four months’ time.

The inquiry follows Forest Heath District Council’s refusal of the scheme last June.

The Earl, whose family gave its name to one of the world’s most famous horse races, wanted permission for a mix of homes, employment space, community facilities, shops, a school, allotments, play areas and food and drink premises to be built on Hatchfield Farm, in Newmarket.

His application was turned down by the council which justified its decision citing a mix of highways, impact on the equine industry, bat species and community infrastructure concerns.

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Since the scheme was turned down, Lord Derby’s team have been working with Suffolk County Council to come up with proposals which would meet traffic concerns.

He has now lodged an amended plan. The changes would see a signal controlled junction on the A142 near the site rather than a new northern roundabout.

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Agents for Lord Derby say the changes are designed to address the “highways related reasons for the refusal” and Suffolk County Council, the highways authority, said it believed there would soon be “no basis for refusal” on highways grounds.

However, residents in the town say the changes will not alleviate congestion and claim the town’s future as the home of horseracing will remain at risk.

One worried resident is Alexandra Scrope, 67, who, in her email to the council, said: “I honestly believe that if the traffic situation gets any worse, the only solution for trainers will be to move away from Newmarket altogether.

“The Fordham road (A142) is already nigh impassable at rush hour and school pickup times.

“If racing leaves Newmarket it will be a disaster for the town and for the local population.”

Andrew Mead, of Paddocks Drive in Newmarket, said: “I feel rthat the introduction of a signal controlled junction, within the footprint of the previously proposed roundabout, will cause enormous tailbacks in both directions north and south on the A142.

“This will exacerbate the problems already existing for vehicles leaving the A14 by the dual carriageway slip road to join the A142.”

Questions have also been raised whether the amendments to the plan should be allowed.

A spokesman for Forest Heath District Council said: “Given that this matter is now at appeal, the decision on whether or not to permit this alteration and the development as a whole will be made by the Planning Inspectorate, not by Forest Heath District Council.”

Those acting for the earl claim the amendments should be allowed.

In his letter to the council Bob Sellwood, acting for Earl Derby, said: “We are mindful of the Planning Inspectorate guidance on accepting amendments to schemes at appeal and feel that the proposed access amendment meets the requirements of the inspectorate since the change is not a material chenge in the context of a scheme for 1,200 dwellings and the change has no wider impact on the scheme.”

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