Sport Horse Racing

Saturday 17 March 2018

Glimmer of hope for Folkestone

Local authorities have not given up hope of resurrecting Hereford and Folkestone in the future after the owners announced the closure of the racecourses at the end of 2012.

Arena Leisure and Northern Racing revealed their plans to close down both venues on Friday, although it is hoped Folkestone's demise will only be temporary.

A short-term stay of execution appears unlikely at Hereford, though, with the track, which has been in business since 1771, operating under lease from Herefordshire County Council.

"Hereford is owned by Herefordshire County Council and run under a lease arrangement," Tony Kelly, managing director of Arena and Northern Racing, said. "Attempts to extend the lease, which has 17 years remaining, have been unsuccessful.

"Despite being unviable for several years we have supported the racecourse but much-needed investment, required to breathe new life into the racecourse, cannot be justified in the absence of a long-term future for the business."

The local authority are hoping further discussion could yield a more favourable solution, but accept the course is no longer a viable entity for its owners.

There is a glimmer of hope for Folkestone racegoers as the track could reopen in the future if planning permission was granted for a residential development on the site.

That would result in a total revamp of the course, which Arena and Northern Racing feel is necessary to continue racing.

"Folkestone suffers from outdated facilities and has been the subject of detailed discussion between the previous management, Arena Leisure, and Shepway District Council for several years now," Kelly said.

"The proposal for the site incorporated significant residential development, which would have enabled a new racecourse to be constructed with much enhanced amenities.

"However, these plans have been delayed following the recent Examination in Public of the local plan. Discussions will continue with Shepway District Council in the hope that there will be approval of development plans which would secure the future of the racecourse.

"If they succeed, work to reconfigure the racecourse could commence in 2013."

The leader of Shepway Council, Robert Bliss, is keen to do everything possible to ensure the track reopens again in the near future. "We will do everything we can to secure the long-term future of the racecourse," he said.

Racecourse fixtures currently staged at Hereford and Folkestone will be transferred to other racecourses within Arena and Northern Racing.

Sunday Indo Sport

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport