Kempton may be reprieved … ?


Click here to read the full article

The back page of The Times (27 Feb 2017) carries an intriguing item claiming that the plans by Redrow and The Jockey Club to bulldoze the entire Kempton Park estate might be reversed.

We have several comments:

  1. If this contains any grains of truth then it indicates just how un-thought-through this whole plan was to build 3000 + homes on the estate in the first place. To make a major “strategic decision” like this (The Jockey Club’s words), and then reverse it in a matter of weeks, does not reflect well on the top management of The Jockey Club.
  2. The article mentions that a new plan might be to rather build 1200 homes on the eastern half of the Kempton Park estate which is not taken up by the racecourse. As we already know, of course, their original plan was to build, not 1200, but 2000 units on that site. The 1200 figure simply does not ring true. (Click here to read the evidence for that.)
  3. We’ll believe it when we see Redrow withdrawing their application, through Spelthorne Council’s Call for Sites, for the Green Belt status to be lifted from the whole of the Kempton Park estate.

Postscript: The Jockey says there is no change.


Council opposition boosted by new government guidelines


Ian Harvey - Leader, Spelthorne Borough Councillor
Ian Harvey – Leader, Spelthorne Borough Councillor

“An hour before the Jockey Club made its announcement I was contacted by agents for Redrow saying they had put the whole site forward but that we shouldn’t panic as it wasn’t their intention to seek development of the whole site. Lo and behold, the Jockey Club then announced it does want to build on the whole site. If I’m being polite I’d say that from the very beginning the Jockey Club has been disingenuous.”


“Significant increases in house prices have not been driven by supply constraints.”


At last someone is pointing out the fallacy, relentlessly being put about by developers, that building more houses will reduce house prices.

“Rising earnings and falling interest rates, rather than insufficient supply, drove the boom in house prices between 1996 and 2006.” (Oxford Economics Report, Section 1.3)

Click here to read the Redfern Review Press Release

To read the full Report, click here.




Horse racing moves one step closer to the abyss

SUNBURY, ENGLAND - JANUARY 17:  Runners and riders on their first lap in the Matchbook Traders Conference Handicap Stakes at Kempton Park on January 17, 2017 in Sunbury, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
SUNBURY, ENGLAND – JANUARY 17: Runners and riders on their first lap in the Matchbook Traders Conference Handicap Stakes at Kempton Park on January 17, 2017 in Sunbury, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Is the planned sale of Kempton Park for housing the Jockey Club’s idea of a sick joke?

Green Belt for Grandstand: Part 2


We warned about this two-and-a-half years ago (click here): The Jockey Club stood to make so much from their plan to dig up the parkland on half of their Kempton Park estate that they could afford to repay the £25m owed to the bondholders who financed the new Grandstand at Cheltenham, and have cash left over to make a big repayment of the additional £43m they owed the banks and other creditors.

Things have changed since then, of course. The Jockey Club’s total debt has grown from £97m to £155m (page 12 here), and, of course, they now want to bulldoze their entire Kempton Park estate to raise in excess of £100m.

One thing hasn’t changed. When we brought up this topic with Jockey Club management and PR consultants in 2014, it was remarkable how defensive they were. A couple of weeks ago, the defensiveness had given way to vehement denials, as if it were almost treasonous to question the health of The Jockey Club’s finances. Never mind the fact the £500m in investment they are promising over the decade following their hoped-for sale of the Kempton Park estate is no more than they spent over the decade to 2015. (The Jockey Club’s published Accounts only go up to 2015.)

But whatever the arguments they put up in denial, the fact remains: an important area of London’s Green Belt will be lost to put The Jockey Club’s finances in better order, to the added detriment of the quality of life of current residents of the area, as well as anyone who buys one of the 3000+ units The Jockey Club and Redrow will build, if they are given half a chance.

And there’s one other thing: this whole plan smells as if it were put together over a weekend. The vast majority of horse racing’s most influential people were not consulted. The Leader of Forest Heath District Council (home of Newmarket, and where the promised new all-weather track will be built to replace the one at Kempton Park which The Jockey Club wants to tear up) was not consulted. Neither, it seems, was anyone at Elmbridge Borough Council (home of Sandown Park, which The Jockey Club promises to upgrade and increase in capacity, with all sorts of implications for traffic flow in the Esher area).

In their initial plans to build on Kempton Park from 2012 onwards, The Jockey Club were at pains to spend years cultivating councillors and officials at Spelthorne Borough Council. Their plans came to nothing, and, instead of managing the development process themselves, they brought in Redrow to do it for them.

There are an increasing number of voices within The Jockey Club, and racing more generally, who think Redrow were the drivers behind this entire project. Redrow bounced Simon Bazalgette and his Stewards – over a matter of weeks – into agreeing this new plan to pour concrete over the entire Kempton Park estate. Long term plan it is not.

It’ll all come out in the wash at some stage …


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