Save Kempton campaign receives major boost from green belt assessment
The Jockey Club's ambition to develop Kempton for housing has been made more difficult by the estate's designation as strongly fulfilling the purposes of green belt.
A detailed assessment carried out by consultants Arup on behalf of Spelthorne Borough Council has examined every parcel of green belt in the area rating them weak, moderate or strong in meeting the five criteria of green belt land.
Kempton Park has been rated "strong" and although the council stresses Arup's report is not a policy or decision-making document on the release of green belt land for development it will form a key part of Spelthorne's evidence base for its local plan review.
Local residents were briefed on the report on Tuesday and campaigner Alan Doyle said although the verdict was "not the silver bullet", the Jockey Club would find it harder to secure planning permission it would require to build up to 3,000 homes at Kempton, which has been designated green belt since 1956.
The future of Kempton, which hosts its annual highlight the 32Red King George VI Chase on December 26, was put on the line last January when the Jockey Club disclosed it had partnered with builders Redrow in putting forward the racecourse as a potential site that could meet local housing needs in response to a call from the council.
It hoped to raise at least £100 million which would help support a £500m investment in racing over ten years which would include the creation of a new all-weather track in Newmarket and major upgrade at Sandown. The Jockey Club said racing would continue at Kempton until at least 2021.
Doyle, of Keep Kempton Green, said: "It is not the silver bullet as far as we are concerned but it would be infinitely more difficult to stop development on Kempton Park if it was not strong. Arup has designated the entire estate as strongly fulfilling the five purposes of green belts which we have been arguing for about four years.
"That doesn't mean the Jockey Club aren't going to make strong representations in the other direction. We fully expect them to. They will try to pick holes in the methodology, but as far as we are concerned that is robust.
"We were glad to see that Arup agreed with us. There are some areas designated strong performers elsewhere that Arup says parts should be developed, but not along that north-eastern edge.
"We will find out what happens when it comes up for public consultation next year which we are expecting in the spring. There have been very public statements from the council that they will protect green belt so we will see. It is good news for us."
A spokesman for the Jockey Club said: “It is widely known the site is in Green Belt. We continue to await the outcome of Spelthorne’s Call for Sites process in due course.”
Read exclusive previews from 6pm daily on racingpost.com