Planners give Southwell go-ahead to light up the sky for night action
Southwell took a step closer to becoming the fifth track in Britain to race under lights after committee members of Newark and Sherwood District Council voted on Tuesday evening in favour of the course’s ambitious plans to erect floodlights.
The dual-purpose track, owned by Arena Racing Company, submitted plans to light the entire circuit of just over a mile and a quarter and the five-furlong chute with the addition of 54 floodlight pylons in July and has designs on starting the project next year.
Providing additional fixtures are granted by the BHA, Southwell will join Chelmsford, Kempton, Newcastle and Wolverhampton by staging evening racing under floodlights from as early as 2019.
“Arc is very pleased planning permission has been granted to construct floodlights at Southwell racecourse," said Southwell's executive director Mark Clayton.
"Subject to future fixture allocation, the current intention is for construction to begin in 2018 in time for racing under floodlights to start at Southwell in 2019."
Racing has taken place on the current site at Southwell since 1897 but it was solely a jumps course until the all-weather Flat track was opened in 1989.
The course has been forced to close for lengthy spells twice in recent years due to flooding, but that threat has receded thanks to significant investment in flood defences at the Nottinghamshire venue.
At its height, Southwell staged 80 fixtures a year but that number has fallen significantly since Newcastle, which like Southwell and Wolverhampton is owned by the Arc, introduced all-weather racing last year following a £12 million redevelopment that included the installation of a brand new Tapeta surface in place of the existing Flat turf course.
Southwell will stage 54 meetings in all this year but has ambitions to return to something approaching 80 in the future with the addition of evening racing.
There is no intention to stage jump racing under floodlights at the track, while racing would continue during the installation of the floodlights, according to officials, who anticipate building work taking around 14 weeks to complete.
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