Newbury Racecourse is an odds-on favourite on the 50-acre site now that plans to build 1,500 new homes have been approved by West Berkshire council.
Homes will be built on three sites, including the iconic grandstand-style apartments, plus five-bedroom family houses in tree-lined boulevards with panoramic views of the course.
Up to 450 of the properties will be “affordable”, for first-time buyers. Detailed design proposals will take a year to finalise and construction work is expected to start early next year.
Newbury Racecourse and its joint venture partner, David Wilson Homes, have been working on plans to redevelop the 100-year-old track and surrounding area for four years, but some local residents are worried about over-development and the potential strain on the local infrastructure.
The loss-making course hosts the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup but operates races for only 32 days a year. Upgraded racing and hospitality facilities are part of the £300 million project. As well as homes, the course will get a new gateway entrance, parade ring, stables, 120-room hotel and children’s nursery.
Earlier plans were criticised by the Commission For Architecture And The Built Environment, a government advisory agency, for not seeing enough potential in the site and not making it a location for family housing. The commission also raised concerns about the height of two tall residential buildings proposed at the entrance to the site.
New homes are much needed in the area, says West Berkshire council. The development will provide 14 per cent of the new homes required locally up to 2026, as set out in the regional South-East Plan.
Newbury town council says the impact on local roads of a 1,500-home scheme will be “horrendous”. A key element of the project is a new bridge over the railway line, which councillors say should be built immediately rather than during the third year of the new development.