Kempton Park may close for housing development in 2021
Kempton, home of the King George VI Chase, could be closed for housing redevelopment "from 2021 at the earliest", its owners the Jockey Club has announced.
The planned £500million of investments to be made in the sport in a 10-year plan proposed by the Jockey Club would see Kempton proposed as a future redevelopment site, with a new all-weather venue to be built if that idea goes ahead.
The Jockey Club's land at The Links in Newmarket is the front-runner as the location for a new floodlit artificial track, with the King George switching to Sandown.
The Kempton estate - on which it is anticipated any future development on racecourse land would be from 2021 at the earliest, subject to a successful planning process - has been submitted for consideration following the local authority's 'Call for Sites' to address unmet local housing needs and a decision to undertake a review of its Green Belt boundaries.
The track's owner feels "these combine to provide a once-in-a-generation opportunity to promote the site for new homes and local benefits, while preserving green space between the local borough and London" with the stewards of the Jockey Club believing such an outcome would be "in the best long-term interests of British racing given the benefits for horsemen and racegoers that can be created and with the Surrey community already well-served for racing".
However, the Jockey Club insist Kempton will only be redeveloped if the move will generate in excess of £100m investment and the proposed all-weather circuit at Newmarket is given the green light.
Roger Weatherby, senior steward of the Jockey Club, said: "The Jockey Club is governed by Royal Charter to act for the long-term good of British racing.
"One of the ways we want to live up to that is through a series of projects that offer benefits all around the country and collectively add up to us contributing more than half a billion pounds to the sport over the next decade from its grassroots to top level.
"We must show leadership with the assets we have and, where merited, take tough decisions to help our sport to keep moving forwards. The decision to submit our estate at Kempton Park for consideration in the Local Plan is unique and has not been taken lightly.
"Our board of stewards are horsemen and, having carefully considered what we can achieve in the long-run from doing so, are unanimously of the view that British racing is better served by us doing so.
"Horsemen and customers alike will enjoy the benefit of numerous projects nationwide that result from the record investment proposals we unveil today, which include investments at each of our racecourses and training grounds throughout the country."