Housing review stresses under-threat Kempton's significant role in local tourism
Kempton Park, whose long-term future has been plunged into doubt by Jockey Club ambitions to dispose of it for redevelopment, has been described as a "significant contributor to tourism" in the consultation paper which will help determine the area's housing needs.
Spelthorne Borough Council's local plan document, published this week, says regular race meetings, concerts and other events have made it one of the area's largest visitor attractions.
As it is also within the green belt, "careful consideration needs to be given to any improvements that balances the long-term future of this key asset, its impact on infrastructure and the desire to preserve the character of the area," says the paper.
It continues: "Therefore, in order to ensure Kempton Park remains one of the region's key race and conference venues, we will need to give consideration as to how best to support the venue through the local plan."
It is the only reference to the racecourse in the issues and options document which invites residents, workers and businesses to have a say on the make-up of the local plan, which will set out how much development is needed in the borough for the next 15 years and where it should go.
It lists four options: meeting housing need without amending Green Belt boundaries; releasing large areas of Green Belt for housing and other developments; focus new development opportunities around Staines; or a combination of the other three options.
The Jockey Club announced in January 2017 that it had put forward the racecourse as a potential site that could meet local housing needs in response to a call from the council, in a partnership with builders Redrow.
It hoped to raise at least £100 million which would help support a £500m investment in racing, including 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.
Opponents include the council, local residents and some leading racing figures, notably champion jumps trainer Nicky Henderson and champion owner JP McManus.
Last year a report for the council determined that Kempton Park strongly fulfilled the purposes of Green Belt.
'There shouldn't be houses built'
Local campaign group Keep Kempton Green spokesman Alan Doyle said: "We have a six-week consultation period when we'll be encouraging as many people around this part of the borough to make their views felt. It's important for the council and the planning inspector who will conduct the examination in public of the new local plan.
"We've made no secret that we have engaged a QC. The strongly felt view locally that there shouldn't be houses built on Kempton Park.
"The scale is enormous, effectively doubling the number of residences all on the same roads, sewer system, electrical system, all the rest of it."
At the end of the consultation period, the council will draft the new local plan followed by further consultation later this year. It will then be submitted to the Secretary of State for examination by an independent inspector who will confirm if it can be recommended for adoption. The process is expected to be completed by September 2020.
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