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Emotional day as curtain comes down at Folkestone racecourse

Folkestone Races

There were both cheers and tears as 2,500 horse racing fans turned out in force to bid farewell to Folkestone racecourse on Tuesday afternoon.

Although punters took a decidedly gloomy view and doubt the track at Westenhanger will ever again reverberate to the sound of thundering hooves, Arena Racing Company (ARC), the owners, are hopeful racing will resume there one day.

Everything appears to hinge on whether ARC can obtain planning permission to build several hundred homes on part of the site, which they say will allow them to invest in the grandstands and other facilities.

ARC chairman Lord Howard of Lympne, wants Shepway District Council to include in their core strategy some general wording about future developments which would enable more detailed plans to be submitted.

Lord Howard said: "Arena made clear in 2007 that the racecourse was not viable in its present state and we made a proposal for the redevelopment to the council but the inspector didn’t like it. If we can get some words in the core strategy proposal, then we could be in business."

Racing fan Julian Toomey, who has been attending meetings at Folkestone for more than 40 years, dismissed ARC’s claim about the need to improve the facilities.

He said: "That’s a load of rubbish. This is the best course in the country. We don’t come here for the facilities we come to meet friends and have fun."

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