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York Racecourse Plans for Future Developement

York Races Proposal view from Melrose Stand

8:52am 8th November 2012

York Racecourse is today announcing proposed plans for a £5 million development of the northern end of the course, subject to the appropriate permissions.


After a review of operations and consultation with racing professionals, they say that there is a desire to further improve the facilities for the world-class horses that visit York as well as for those who look after them, ride them and come to see them.


The scheme, which will be the subject of a series of consultation meetings before submission of a formal planning application, creates an integrated horse area to comprise of new saddling boxes, pre parade ring, wash down area, and a weighing room building alongside the existing parade ring according to York Race Course.


They add that as a result of the reconfiguration of these facilities for the horses, the plans demonstrate improved viewing for racegoers as well as greater ease of movement for visitors and horses. The racecourse team say that the scheme is the first major review of these horse facilities in a century and would mean a focus on equine operations that is both better for horsemen and safer for the general public; as it would remove the existing crossing points between horses and racegoers.


York Racecourse adds that constructive discussions with the City of York Council, who is landlord to the racecourse, have led to a proposal to vary the existing lease and realign the existing northern perimeter wall.  Adding that this would provide an additional third of an acre of leased land that in turn unlocks the space to accommodate the improved equine area.


They say that the proposed new pre parade ring will be both larger and on more level ground than the current version; whilst the new saddling boxes and wash down area will also be more spacious and built to modern high specification standards.  The race team add that proposed plans for a new Weighing Room fit for the twenty–first century include a medical room, physiotherapy room, female riders’ changing room and jockeys’ lounge - all features of a modern sport that were not considered when the current Edwardian era weighing room was built.


James Brennan from York Racecourse says the important issues of horse welfare and regulation will be improved with new facilities for vets, farriers and racing officials.


He adds that those who regularly watch horses in the existing pre parade ring will have both a better perspective and more space under the proposals.


To demonstrate the long-term vision for the northern end of the course, the plans also indicate how the space currently occupied by the current Weighing Room and pre parade ring would be redeveloped to improve facilities for racegoers, says James. He adds that the existing Moët Pavilion would be replaced with a new building, that would still be a popular place to meet friends for a drink, as well as providing space for additional toilets. James says the proposals include a roof terrace and bar looking towards the Parade Ring.


York Racecourse say discussions with City of York Council Officers identified a shared desire to make more of a feature of the Grade II* Listed building known as the John Carr Grandstand. Adding that the first stand of its type in racing, this fine example of Georgian architecture was opened in 1754 and still benefits racegoers as part of the champagne terrace. They say plans propose that the façade of the John Carr Stand be given more exposure, by the removal of the existing multiple tented canopies in front of it. A new less intrusive single span canopy would act as both wet weather cover and as a frame to the building according to York Racecourse. Adding that it's made of ETFE, this lightweight structure would offer both shelter and shade, yet still allow light through so racegoers can enjoy the fresh air and so the grass lawns can grow.


York Racecourse say an important part of the overall scheme is to ensure that the area is properly landscaped and the plans indicate a blend of new hedges, flowerbeds and trees, alongside pathways and retaining walls or fences.


They add that practical issues such as power, water, waste management and provision for disabled racegoers are an integrated part of the development proposals.


Commenting on the plans, William Derby, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course said; “I hope these proposed plans demonstrate that York wants to keep improving, to offer the best for horses, for horsemen and for fans of the sport.”


“Wonderful though it was to be able to welcome Frankel, the best racehorse in the world, as well as the 30,000 people intent on seeing him, to York; it did reinforce to me that we can improve things.  We have recently invested in the track, the stables, the stands, facilities for racegoers and other areas of the racecourse so it feels right to turn our intention to areas that last saw a major change over a hundred years ago.”


“I’d hope that by keeping on improving we will keep attracting the best horses to York and so the crowds to follow them. That can only be a good thing for the profile and economy of the both York Racecourse and the City of York.”


The Racecourse team wants to continue to talk to the public and other interested parties about these developments, so has arranged public exhibitions as well as a series of meetings, prior to the submission of any formal applications.


York Races Proposal view from Melrose Stand

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