Trainers in Newmarket gathered 100 racehorses on Warren Hill yesterday (Wednesday 25 June) as part of a protest against land development.
The protest was staged by the Newmarket Horsemen’s Group, the body that represents the industry in the town, urging members of Forest Heath District Council planning committee not to develop land for housing at Hatchfield Farm.
The riders wore high-vis vests that read “No to Hatchfield Farm”. Horses came from top yards including Luca Cumani, William Haggas, James Fanshawe, Jane Chapple-Hyam, Mark Tompkins, Godolphin and William Jarvis.
A council meeting is due to be held next week (2 July).
The group warned that work would have a “significant negative impact on the £200m per annum contribution to the local economy generated by the racing and breeding industry, and also on the future prosperity of the town as a whole”.
William Gittus, chairman of the Newmarket Horsemen’s Group, said: “The racing and breeding operations based in and around the town set Newmarket apart, providing the area with a unique selling point, bringing huge economic, cultural and environmental benefits to the entire area.
“While the current application is for 400 houses, it is our firm belief that allowing any development at Hatchfield Farm will lead, in time, to the number of houses growing and growing.
“The consequences of any significant development at Hatchfield Farm, with the unavoidable accompanying increases in traffic and urbanisation, would compromise the future health and potential for growth of the town’s main industry.”
He added that there are “alternative sites” that could be developed instead.
“We are perfectly happy to support local development that is not detrimental to the future of the horseracing industry,” he said.
A recent report found that the racing industry benefits the economy around Newmarket by more than £208m annually and is responsible for 8,500 jobs within a 25 mile radius. Just under £100m is generated by racehorse trainers.
In 2012 an appeal by developers wanting to build 1,200 homes on Hatchfield Farm was turned down by the government. The plan for 400 houses was submitted this month.
After 4 years of fighting by the Save Historic Newmarket Group secretary of state Eric Pickles rejected the application in March 2012.
The campaign group was set up in 2008 to protest against the new development plans, proposed by Lord Derby.