Disputed horse racing course plans unveiled

Plans for the return of the controversial horse racing course at Lincoln’s West Common have been unveiled on Friday, June 11th, by the Lincoln Racecourse Regeneration Company (LRRC) and the Lincoln Racecourse Trust.

The course would bring investment of over £12 million over the next five to seven years, but residents living nearby worry over the negative effects the course would have in the area in terms of parking and traffic.

According to the developers’ plans, the Lincoln race course would include the renovation of the existing Grandstand, construction of new stable blocks and associated buildings, and improvements to the turf and drainage across the racecourse and the Common.

The full proposal document (PDF), which was confidential until today, is now available at the Lincoln Racecourse Regeneration Company‘s website. The document also highlights the previous history of horse racing in Lincoln, which was moved from Waddington to the West Common.

The developers anticipate that racing will only take place a maximum of 16 times per year, at various times of the week, specifically between March and October, with up to 5,000 people attending per event.

The proposal document mentions that 90,000 leaflets have been delivered and circulated across Lincoln that asked for direct feedback concerning the return of racing to Lincoln. Over 97% of those who have responded to date have replied that it will be of some benefit to the city and the local economy, it is claimed.

Not all residents in surrounding areas are convinced over the benefits of a reinstated race course. Many have complained about possible traffic and parking problems, which they claim would cripple Lincoln’s already packed streets.

LRRC’s proposal acknowledges these problems, but says that “the management of these visitors’ arrival and movement around the City will need careful planning and monitoring, much like the achievements of traffic and pedestrian flows at the Christmas Market, but on a much lesser scale.”

The West Common race course is part of Lincoln MP Karl McCartney’s plan to boost tourism and investment in the city. The media briefing on Friday came from LRRC spokeswoman Karen Rastall, who is an active accountant in Lincoln. She said she was asked by McCartney to take on this role.

The briefing though, was not uneventful. Besides formally launching the LRRC website and unveiling the proposal, reports emerged that between 30 and 40 local people were refused entry to the meeting, which were said to be there to protest against the race course plans.

Plans for the West Common race course are not finalised yet. In July this proposal will be discussed at a Commons Advisory Panel Meeting, and at some point in 2011, when reaching final stages, the public will be invited to view them, to comment and subsequently to do the same with any revised versions.

LRRC anticipates that if planning permission is granted, professional flat racing could return to Lincoln within five years.

Sources: LRRC, BBC, Lincolnshire Echo, The Linc | Photo: Rennett Stowe