Newmarket: Multi-million pound Home of Horseracing National Heritage Centre set for approval

The National Horseracing Museum in Newmarket.

The National Horseracing Museum in Newmarket. - Credit: Archant

THE creation of a £14.3million national heritage centre to share the history of horse racing could soon be under starter’s orders.

Leaders from Forest Heath District Council, who will meet tomorrow night, are expected to give their approval to the Home of Horseracing - paving the way for physical work on the long-running tourism project to begin.

The centre, which will be located on Newmarket’s High Street, is expected to attract between 40,000 and 50,000 people and provide an annual £1.8m boost to west Suffolk’s economy.

Matthew Hancock, west Suffolk MP, last night praised the team behind the scheme and added: “I’m very hopeful that the Home of horseracing will go ahead this week.

“It will be a huge boost for Newmarket town centre and cement its place as the global headquarters of racing.”

The finished scheme, which is described in a report to councillors as a “compelling tourist destination for UK and international visitors,” will see the historic Palace House upgraded to national museum standards to provide space for the collections of the British Sporting Art Trust and the Tate.

The Palace House Stables and Trainer’s House will be restored to form new permanent galleries, an enlarged library and an expanded museum object store.

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A restoration of the inner or ‘Rothschild’ Yard and the paddocks beyond will also take place to create a flagship home for the Retraining of Racehorses charity, allowing the public to watch demonstrations and historic reconstructions.

All of the works on the Forest Heath owned-site, which are estimated to cost £14.3million, will be carried out by the council before they lease the site to the Horseracing Museum who will run the heritage centre.

About £13.7million of the project cost has been pledged and it is expected that a further £500,000 will be ratified in April.

However, according to council documents, 83% of the pledged money has not yet been received - meaning that Forest Heath is at risk of carrying out works without the funds being available, The report goes on to state that this

risk is “acceptable”, given the financial standing of the donors.

More than £5m has been raised from private individuals, trusts and other donations while £4.25m has been awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Forest Heath has also put £1.286m into the kitty while Suffolk County Council contributed £1m.

In addition, The Home of Horseracing Trust, which is raising funds for the project, has also committed to finding £750,000 “working capital” before any construction takes place.

Warwick Hirst, Forest Heath Cabinet member for Health, Leisure and Culture, said: “A tremendous amount of hard work by a large number of people and organisations has gone into the Home of Horseracing project, which is set to transform the centre of Newmarket. There is still a way to go but I hope councillors will give their approval to moving this exciting project a step closer to the starting gate.”

A spokesman for the Horseracing Museum was unable to comment yesterday.

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