Future of Towerlands EC is safe, says owners

  • Towerlands Park equestrian centre in Braintree, Essex could be part of a development of 2,000 new homes if plans by its owners, the Unex Group, are given the go-ahead.

    But the company says the equestrian and conference centre will continue to trade.

    Racehorse owner Bill Gredley’s company Unex, which bought Towerlands in 2004, submitted the plan for what it calls the North West Braintree Urban Extension to the East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) last October after a call for possible sites in the area to be developed by 2031.

    Unex would not discuss the plans with H&H, but released a statement saying: “We are working with the local council to retain the horse element, expand the conference and banqueting element plus further use, including residential, a hotel and more retail.

    “The development is due to be implemented in four to five years if consent is granted.”

    A plan of the green-field site, which will occupy 220 acres when completed, shows the equestrian centre surrounded by development, which includes a football stadium, new premises for Braintree College and numerous businesses.

    Michelle Thornton, who owns the business at Towerlands, but not the buildings and land, which belong to Unex, said: “The project will not be finished until 2020-2025, so will not be a concern for many of us.

    “We do not plan to change what we are doing in the meantime except add to the large number of events we hold here each year. We plan to run two new unaffiliated shows this year to plug a gap in the market.”

    Ms Thornton said Towerlands has 120 acres of land, including 20 acres of buildings and hard-standing and 45 acres of golf course, much of which is parkland.

    “We have about 80 acres spare on this site, but Mr Gredley owns a lot more land in the area,” she said.

    A spokesman for EERA said the North West Braintree Urban Extension is one of hundreds of applications received by the authority that are being considered.

    This article was first published in Horse & Hound (22 January, ’09)

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