On 27 July Arena Racing Company (“ARC”) announced the closure of Hereford Racecourse and the temporary closure of Folkestone Racecourse. On Sunday 16th December Hereford will host its final fixture followed by Folkestone on Tuesday 18th December.
The fixtures for both racecourses have since been transferred and will be hosted at other ARC tracks in 2013. Since the announcement there has been a considerable amount of work undertaken in respect of the future of both tracks.
Disappointingly Shepway District Council withdrew their support for the racecourse proposals within the core strategy. This left the racecourse with no certainty regards any future development plans.
The council issued modifications to the Core Strategy for public consultation on 29th October 2012, following which the Board of ARC have made representations within that consultation to attempt to secure a future for Folkestone Racecourse. This includes more general wording about future developments which if approved would enable the Board to propose more detailed plans that would meet the necessary tests set by the local Council and as such could lead to the re-development of the racecourse.
The Board has received general support from Kent County Council, and has held discussions with Shepway District Council who would also like to see the Racecourse re-open and enhance its facilities. It is therefore hoped that the Inspector will agree to a criteria based policy for the Racecourse when he has had the opportunity to review the representations made early in the New Year.
Since the announcement there have been several meetings with the officers at Herefordshire Council regarding racing continuing at the track. Both parties continue to explore opportunities to develop the facilities which would lead to Hereford Racecourse becoming a more viable venue. These discussions are also linked to a new long term lease which would replace the existing lease which only has 17 years left to run.
Tony Kelly ARC’s Managing Director commented “We were disappointed by the Inspectors report on our plans for Folkestone Racecourse, however having taken advice we have continued to press for the redevelopment of the venue. We are hopeful that this approach will yield better results.”
“In respect of Hereford Race course we have held constructive discussions with the Council but there remains a long way to go. Despite reports to the contrary we have not been approached by any interested third parties who are willing to invest in the track, although we remain open and willing to discuss that should it be the case.”