So there we have it – the shocking news that The Jockey Club wants to bulldoze a “highly profitable racecourse” (their own words) in order to make “in excess of £100 million” (their own words, again) by covering their Green Belt estate at Kempton Park in concrete.
And if The Jockey Club stands to make that sort of sum, then Redrow – The Jockey Club’s preferred developer – stands to make an absolute killing.
A few points:
a) First we found out that they wanted to build 1500 dwellings at Kempton Park. That soon became 2000 (although both The Jockey Club and their various consultants denied there was a figure, despite us having the documentary proof). And now, we’re told, they want to build 3000 units by using not just the open Green Belt on eastern half of their estate, but also by flattening the grandstands and digging up the racecourse itself.
Do we believe 3000 will be the final figure?
You can build far more than 3000 dwellings on a site that size.
b) They say (see Redrow’s PR people’s email here) that their plans “could allow for the retention of a significant area of Green Belt, alongside the provision of other publically accessible on-site open space.”
What they really mean is they will apply for a smaller number of houses on a portion of the estate – probably where the grandstands are now – and a few years hence will apply to build on what remains.
Tell us another one.
c) “In addition to housing, the site could deliver significant improvements to the local road network, particularly at Sunbury Cross and has the potential to deliver a new school, health facilities, shops and other community facilities.”
Improvements to the local traffic network? 3000 dwellings = 6000 extra cars on the local roads at rush hour.
New schools? New health facilities? Even if we believed them (no such promises have been kept by any other developer in Sunbury) such promises are simply not in the gift of Redrow or The Jockey Club. Teachers, doctors and nurses are paid for by the local education authority or the NHS. Who believes that either of those bodies has the money to build and maintain new health centres and schools in Sunbury.
The Jockey Club and Redrow must have written their press releases with tongues firmly in cheeks, and their fingers in a collective cross behind their backs.
To be blunt, from an organisation of which the Queen is Patron, one expects better.