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Developer wins planning appeal in ‘horseracing capital’

A developer has won a legal battle for planning permission to build 400 houses in Newmarket, described in court as the horseracing capital of the UK.


The importance of the racing industry was a major factor in the case. The High Court was told that large numbers of horses crossed the town every day on their way to and from training.


They interacted with the traffic, particularly at horse crossings. As thoroughbred racehorses, they were skittish and easily spooked. The town’s development plan included a policy (DM48) which sought to avoid development that would have a material adverse impact on the horseracing industry unless the benefits of the development would significantly outweigh the harm caused.


The developers and the local planning authority agreed that the plan to build the 400 houses would add about 5% to the amount of traffic overall.


The inspector who considered the application recommended that planning permission should be granted. Among other things, she concluded that the presumption in favour of sustainable development in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) applied. She also determined that the development traffic would not make the congestion in Newmarket materially worse and there would be no unacceptable increase in congestion or harm to highway safety.


She further concluded that the proposal would not result in an adverse effect on or an undue risk to the existing economic importance, potential for future growth and continuing success of the horseracing industry.


The Secretary of State declined to accept the inspector's recommendation. He considered that the threat to the horseracing industry carried substantial weight against the proposal. He also found that the risks arising from increased traffic at one of the horse crossings weighed against the proposal.


The High Court has now ruled in favour of the developers. It held that the Secretary of State had failed to apply his own policy in the NPPF and failed to give any reasons for reaching his conclusion about the detriment to the horseracing industry. 

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any matter relating to planning and development.