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New plans could see horses return to Newmarket's Queensbury Lodge

A plan which could finally see the renovation of Newmarket eyesore Queensbury Lodge and the building of 123 new town centre homes, has been unveiled.

Details of the proposals, which are part of a 73-page detailed development brief, are set to be outlined to Newmarket town councillors on Monday.

The former racing stable, which fronts the High Street, is just part of the proposed development site which also includes the former swimming pool site, the former White Lion pub and paddocks which were once part of Fitzroy Stables.

Queensbury Lodge, which for decades has been an eyesore at the entrance to Newmarket.
Queensbury Lodge, which for decades has been an eyesore at the entrance to Newmarket.

The overall site is in different company ownerships, including Oftenfact Ltd and TAP Investments, of which Stetchworth property developer Bill Gredley is a director.

Mr Gredley has been battling local planners over the future of Queensbury Lodge for more than 30 years and has lost every planning appeal he has made over the site as inspectors upheld the district council’s racing planning policy implement to safeguard the town’s unique racing heritage.

Now he proposing to restore the historic buildings and return them to their original use for racehorse training in the form of a starter yard with a new dedicated horsewalk following the boundary of Fitzroy Stables to Black Bear Lane where it will meet a new horsewalk on The Rows.

The main house would be refurbished and fitted out as a trainer’s house and office, while the neighbouring cottage would be accommodation for lads working in the yard.

Accoding to the proposals: “The impact of the restoration works on the Queensbury Lodge listed buildings and their setting will be positive with their character and appearance restored with them being brought back to life as a racehorse training starter yard.”

The trade-off for this work, appears to be the development of 123 new homes on Fitzroy paddocks, once part of Fitzroy Stables, which were separated from the Black Bear Lane yard back in 1988, when Mr Gredley sold the stables to the late trainer Alex Scott, but retained the extensive paddocks which linked the yard to the Rowley Drive horsewalk.

The proposed development will include a block of 40 flats close to the junction with Black Bear Lane, and 83 houses, 11 of which would be built on a parcel of land currently owned by Shell which could form part of a land swap to enable the company to redevelop its High Street service station providing a more modern facility with improved access and a new convenience store.

Called Fitzroy Park, the new housing development would be accessed from the High Street, with no vehicular access from Falmouth Avenue, which had been suggested in previous plans for the residential development of the paddocks.

It would have a central landscaped public square and play areas.

The former White Lion pub, which has planning permission for conversion into flats, would be partly converted into ‘shared workspace’ officesproviding an opportunity for residents to work in an office minutes away from their home.

According to the design brief, the proposed development is justified because ‘in addition to providing 86 much-needed market homes it also provides 37 affordable dwellings on a highly sustainable site which is within walking distance of all of the town centre’s shops, services, schools and facilities including the bus and railway stations’.

It adds that the development would bring ‘significant improvements’ to the character and appearance of the area.

“The proposed development will completely transform this gateway into Newmarket with significantly improved appearance and public realm to bring a vitality and life back to the end of the High Street,” says the brief. And it stresses the housing development, pub conversion, and restoration of Queensbury Lodge, are all in accordance with government policy and West Suffolk Council’s own policies.

The proposals represent a new chapter in the site’s long and chequered history when other suggestions for its use have included a racehorse training yard for Fitzroy paddocks, a care home for Queensbury Lodge and an Adsa supermarket, with the paddocks providing space for a car park.

Such is the current state of Queensbury Lodge that the district council has considered a compulsory purchase order to save it.