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York Racecourse Re-Development Gets Planning Approval

York Racecourse

3:50pm 18th April 2013

York Racecourse is pleased to confirm that the first phase of a £5 million development of the northern end of the course was granted planning permission by City of York Council on Thursday 18 April.

Commenting on the plans, William Derby, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course said; “I am delighted that these plans have been approved as they demonstrate that York wants to keep improving, to offer the best for horses, for horsemen and for fans of the sport. This is just phase one of our vision and I remain excited by the plans for the new weighing room and wider racegoers facilities; the team are close to submitting this aspect of the scheme for planning consideration.”

After a review of operations and consultation with racing professionals, 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.

This first phase gives planning consent to create an integrated horse area; to comprise of a relocated pre parade ring, new saddling boxes, improved vet facilities and a wash down area. The next phase of the development, which will be submitted for appropriate approvals shortly, will include a new weighing room building to sit alongside the new pre parade ring.

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 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.

In order to deliver the plans there is a need to realign the existing northern perimeter wall.

 This would provide 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, who is landlord to the racecourse, have already taken place and led to a proposal to vary the existing lease; this will now be subject to the appropriate public consultations and separate approvals.

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 detailed plans for a new Weighing Room fit for the twenty–first century will be submitted shortly and will 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.

The important issues of horse welfare and regulation will be improved with new facilities for vets, farriers and racing officials.

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

The plans were approved with the Committee having information on a long-term vision for the northern end of the course. These will now be brought forward in a formal planning application to demonstrate how the space currently occupied by the current Weighing Room and pre parade ring would be redeveloped to improve facilities for racegoers. 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. The proposals include a roof terrace and bar looking towards the Parade Ring.

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. 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. The next round of applications will 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. 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.

An important part of the overall long-term 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.

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 continued,

“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, and hosted a series of public exhibitions and meetings, prior to the submission of the formal applications.

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