Newmarket: Decision delayed by archaeological find

A previous excavation at Mildenhall

A previous excavation at Mildenhall

A VITAL part of a bid to bring a supermarket chain and state-of-the art cinema to Newmarket has been set back after an archaeological survey revealed possible ancient remains.

An application by George Lambton to transform Brickfield Stud on Exning Road into a recreation ground was due to be voted on yesterday by Forest Heath District Council’s development committee.

The building of four football pitches, changing facilities and recreation grounds is designed to replace facilities on George Lambton Playing Fields that will disappear if a related application by Sainsbury’s and The Trustees of the EG Lambton 1974 Settlement for a superstore, cinema, DIY store and 90 homes is successful.

But following the discovery of archaeological remains, which potentially have national significance, and after consultation with planning bosses, the application was withdrawn from the agenda.

A team is now preparing to dig trenches on the site to evaluate exactly what is on the Exning Road site and how it can be preserved.

Jess Tipper, an archaeologist at Suffolk County Council’s Archaeological Service, had recommended to Forest Heath’s head of planning that a geophysical survey was carried out on the site before a determination of the application was made. A desk-based assessment had suggested a “moderate to high potential for encountering archaeological deposits of prehistoric to medieval date”.

Mr Lambton, who is also a member of Newmarket Town Council, said the application was withdrawn from the agenda to allow time for further investigation.

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He added: “We did a geophysical survey of the land and it has identified potential for archaeological remains so we’ve got to do some further investigation.

“You never can predict, until you the survey the land what might be found on it.

“We did a geophysical survey as we didn’t want to dig up the land until the principle of development was established. The geophysical survey has come up with some quite interesting possibilities that is actually quite exciting.”

But Mr Lambton, who agreed it was a small setback, insisted the archaeological work would have no impact on plans to bring Sainsbury’s and ODEON to Fordham Road.

It is expected that the Brickfield Stud site will be one of the conditions imposed on the Sainsbury’s development should it be successful.

A special development control meeting is planned for May 22 when applications for the Sainsbury’s site, a Tesco store in Fordham Road, a Morrisons in Exning Road and an Asda near Rowley Drive will all be determined.