10 Million Pound Development For York Racecourse
8:46am 17th September 2013
“All systems go” was the upbeat message from York Racecourse as the leading track confirmed that the main contractor had been appointed for the development of the northern end of the racecourse and the first phase of work will start in the coming weeks.
After a competitive tender process, Lindum York has been awarded this important development. With a permanent base in York, as well as in Lincoln, the firm has a strong record including leisure and heritage projects such as the redevelopment work for Samuel Smith’s Brewery and the renovation of the Drill Hall, a Grade II Listed building in Lincoln.
Preparatory works on the site are set to start today (Tuesday 17 September) with the major activity commencing after the season ends on Saturday 12 October. One of the first aspects will be to construct a new, improved pathway and course crossing point allowing ongoing access to the centre of the Knavesmire. The whole northern end development project will be completed in several phases over a number of years, with most of the construction work to be undertaken outside the race seasons.
The appointment of the contractor is the latest piece in a jigsaw that includes gaining all the necessary approvals to progress the scheme. Over the summer, planning permission was granted by City of York Council for the whole of the development of the northern end of the course and the required amendment to the existing lease has also been approved.
The work this winter includes the creation of a new, larger, more level pre-parade ring complete with modern saddling boxes, vet treatment and wash down areas, which is scheduled to be in operation in May 2014.
Lindum York plans to use local suppliers, subcontractors and tradesmen wherever possible and this project award follows closely on other local schemes – the Bonding Warehouse and redevelopment of Wickes on Clifton Moor Retail Park.
Commenting on the news, William Derby, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course said “It is very exciting that we are about to start the first physical works on this project which will further improve this end of the racecourse for horses, horsemen and racegoers. The scheme will deliver a wonderful experience for those coming racing at York, including the world-class thoroughbreds, the racing professionals who accompany them, and the 350,000 racegoers who watch them each year. I am delighted that the racecourse team is working with locally-based Lindum York to deploy their combined talents on the next stage of actually building and delivering this exciting scheme”.
The two planning applications for this project, approved in April and July 2013, include, within the scheme, plans for a new weighing room, canopy over the Grade II* Listed John Carr Building and further racegoer facilities in the area vacated by the relocating of the pre-parade ring. The new Weighing Room will be located alongside the new pre-parade ring and will be a brick and timber building combining the heritage of the architecture of York Racecourse, being equipped inside for 21st century jockeys. The external design uses the trademark red, white and blue barber poles and metal fretwork which is an iconic feature of York from the already cherished Edwardian County Stand. Internally, it will include a medical room, physiotherapy room, female rider’s changing room and jockey’s lounge. The first floor includes a new racegoer suite in a fabulous location overlooking the parade and pre-parade rings.
As a result of the reconfiguration of facilities for the horses, the plans provide improved viewing for racegoers, as well as greater ease of movement for visitors and horses. The scheme is the first major review of these horse facilities in a century.
The approved scheme includes future phases to use the space currently occupied by the existing weighing room and pre-parade ring to be converted into improved facilities for racegoers. The existing Moët Pavilion is set to be replaced with a new enhanced building, which looks set to continue to be a hugely popular place for racegoers to meet. The designs include a roof terrace and bar looking towards the Parade Ring. There is also space for additional toilets and back-of-house facilities to better service this area.
Last November and through the season so far, York Racecourse undertook wide consultation on all these plans and was delighted and encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive feedback received from locals, racing professionals and racegoers. Of particular interest were the plans to make more of the John Carr Stand, which is believed to be the oldest grandstand on a current sporting venue anywhere in the world and the only Grade II* Listed building on a British racecourse. The façade of this building will be given more exposure by the removal of the existing multiple tented canopies in front of it. A new less intrusive single-span canopy will act as both wet weather cover and as a frame to the building. Made of ETFE, this lightweight structure offers both shelter and shade, yet still allows light through so racegoers can enjoy the fresh air and that the grass lawns can grow.
As was made clear during the planning process, in order to deliver the plans there is a need to realign the existing northern perimeter wall. This provides an additional third of an acre of leased land that in turn unlocks the space to accommodate the improved equine area. Constructive discussions with the City of York Council, which is landlord to the racecourse, have resulted in the agreement to vary the existing lease. The Racecourse will construct a new improved pathway and course crossing point allowing ongoing access to the centre of the Knavesmire.
The total scheme naturally lends itself to a phased construction that can fit with the closed season of the racecourse, so it is likely to be 2015 or 2016 before the total project is completed. The investment in the site is estimated at £5 million for the new pre-parade, weighing room and saddling box complex and a further £5 million for the racegoer facilities and enhancements to the east of the main central thoroughfare.
William Derby continued “The desire behind the scheme is to improve things for our current visitors, be it on two legs or four. The investment in facilities and new space created will improve experience of racing at York. This will help us continue to be a world-class venue in sporting and racing terms and ensure we continue to attract the best horses and riders to York as well as being a great venue to come racing.”
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