Newcastle Racecourse gets go-ahead for £10m transformation

A racecourse manager has pledged to work with concerned residents after a £10m track transformation was given the go-ahead

Newcastle Racecourse managing director David Williamson
Newcastle Racecourse managing director David Williamson

A racecourse manager has pledged to work with concerned residents after a £10m track transformation was given the go-ahead.

The world’s first floodlit mile straight will be built at Newcastle Racecourse’s Gosforth Park site after the city council’s planning committee granted permission for work to start on the project.

The current turf track will be replaced with an all-weather surface, while a stand will be glazed to protect spectators and a new restaurant created.

Plans to illuminate the site also involve installing 44 floodlight columns between 21m (69ft) and 38m (125ft) tall.

More than 20 objections were received from residents to the council, including concerns over the strength of the lights, excessive noise from Tannoy systems in the evening and an increase in traffic making access difficult to Melton Park.

Race course managing director David Williamson said he was delighted the Arena Racing Company had been granted planning permission, but noted the strength of feeling from those living nearby.

He said: “We will speak to the residents but there’s conditions in place just now.

“There’s traffic management and we will continue with that.”

The course redesign is set to attract a new tier of world-class races to Newcastle, including sprint events.

The ultimate aim for the course management is to host the All Weather Championships in 2016 – a race that could bring £1m to the city alone.

Mr Williamson added: “We are going to build a floodlit mile which runs from east to west and it’s the only one in the world. Whether it’s Dubai or America – all the other [courses] are oval in shape.

“This is a significant investment for Arena Racing Company, with 245 direct temporary construction jobs and a further 365 indirect jobs in the supply chain, plus 2500 additional days of casual employment.”

David Down, Liberal Democrat city councillor for the Parklands ward, said he did not object to the proposal but wanted the council to ensure litter is dealt with on the same day as a race.

He said: “Street cleansing happens between 7am and 3pm Monday to Friday for all wards, so if a bottle is broken on Friday night it would need to be dealt with before the following Monday.”

The planning committee unanimously voted in favour of the project on Friday at a meeting at the Civic Centre in Newcastle. A separate application for 14 homes at the site is expected later in the year.

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