Following a meeting between Caroline Spelman MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Rachel Hood of Save Historic Newmarket and colleagues from Tattersalls, Ms Spelman confirmed that the Conservative Party would seek to abolish the East Of England Spatial Strategy if successful at the forthcoming General Election.
She said: “A Conservative Government would move straight away on entering office to scrap the whole bureaucratic tier of regional planning, relieving Forest Heath District Council of the need to comply with the East of England Regional Spatial Strategy. Local councils should be free to determine the most sustainable level of development in their local area, and we need a local funding system for councils which encourages that local choice and local accountability.”
In response, Rachel Hood, Chair of Save Historic Newmarket, said: “The regional spatial strategy is inflexible and out of touch with local needs. We are greatly reassured that Caroline Spelman sees it this way. We are very concerned that the strategy is pushing Forest Heath District Council to consider Hatchfield Farm as the best way of meeting the current government targets. It does not meet the criteria of being sustainable – it would be damaging to Newmarket’s core racing industry. It will urbanise a rural market town and exacerbate hazardous conditions for horses, riders, pedestrians and drivers. We are hoping that the councillors will recognise this when they make their crucial decision."
Members of Save Historic Newmarket had hoped to erect a statue of Charles II near the clock tower to commemorate the crucial part the Merry Monarch played in making Newmarket what it is today: a world-renowned centre for the training and breeding of racehorses.
Despite the fact that the project has the backing of county councillors and that the statue would be funded entirely by money raised from a Save Historic Newmarket-organised campaign and not by tax payers, Newmarket's town councillors do not share our enthusiasm for the town's royal links. The mayor, Cllr Jane Bailey, stated that such an idea must come from 'the community'. What, if not members of the community, are the hundreds of members of Save Historic Newmarket?
Please support our bid for the statue of Charles II by voting online in the Newmarket Journal's poll, which can be found by clicking here. You can also make your comments known on the Journal's Facebook page. Your opinion counts so please vote!
Richard Spring, MP for West Suffolk, took the fight against Hatchfield Farm to Westminster on 19 January having secured a 30-minute parliamentary debate.
In his speech, he outlined the widespread opposition to Lord Deby's plans to build 1200 homes, retail units and and 80-bed hotel to the under secretary of state for communities and local government, Ian Austin.
Spring said: "Newmarket is a precious jewel in the life of this country and this obscene housing development has the capacity to destroy it."
Members of Save Historic Newmarket were joined in the public gallery at Westminster Hall by representatives from Tattersalls and Jockey Club Estates.
To see the story on the BBC website and to watch a video link of Richard Spring's speech in full, please click here.
Freezing fog did not deter more than 300 people attending a protest rally against Lord Derby's plans to develop Hatchfield Farm in Newmarket on Monday.
Angry residents joined representatives from many different organisations within the racing world to vent their frustration at Forest Heath District Council's decision to include the 160-acre greenfield site on its list of potential areas for new housing. A planning application, which ran to 17 boxes of paperwork, containing outlines for 1200 homes, an 80-bed hotel and industrial and commercial units, was submitted to FHDC on Friday, 4 December.
Jacko Fanshawe, a committee member of Save Historic Newmarket who organised the rally, was one of four speakers, including Jimmy George of Tattersalls, William Gittus of Jockey Club Estates and SHN chair Rachel Hood.
She said: "We are here for one thing, and that is to unite in our condemnation of Lord Derby's proposed plans to develop Hatchfield Farm.
"Rachel Hood and I went to have a look at the area on Sunday and it is enormous. Make no mistake, this development would have a hugely detrimental effect on the town and the thoroughbred industry.
"Newmarket is the jewel in racing's crown and we must not let it be cheapened. Lord Derby has said that he wouldn't do anything to harm Newmarket or racing. Well, today we are saying to him, actually, you are harming both."
Lord Derby, who owns Stanley House Stud on the Snailwell Road, lives more than 170 miles from Newmarket at Knowsley, Cheshire.
A public enquiry into housing allocation for Forest Heath starts on Tuesday, 15 December and a planning inspector will consider Newmarket's case on Friday, 7 January 2010.
Meanwhile, opponents to Lord Derby's plans have also been making their feelings known via our online petition which was launched on Friday.