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Home   Folkestone   News   Article

Bets are off on re-opening of Folkestone Racecourse in Westenhanger a year after final meeting

18 December 2013
by Matt Leclere

Today marks a year since the last race meeting there on December 18, 2012. But in that time little has happened to bring racing back to the Westenhanger site.

However, in the last 12 months, plans for 820 homes near the site have been removed after the government's planning inspector denied redevelopment on the grounds that too many homes were proposed.

Racing at Folkestone racecourse. Will it return

Racing at Folkestone racecourse. Will it return?

That prompted Shepway District Council to abandon the racecourse plans – which had provisions in place to redevelop the grandstand and upgrade facilities – in the authority's core strategy and planning blueprint for the next 15 years.

The core strategy has now been approved with no mention of the racecourse and no new plans on the table to redevelop the site.

Campaigners are now fighting for the future of the course, just minutes from Westenhanger railway station, which still calls itself the "home of Folkestone races".

Save Folkestone Races is a vocal poster on Twitter and have gained more than 500 followers since October.

Folkestone Racecourse - The Racecourse of Kent logo

Folkestone Racecourse - The Racecourse of Kent logo

The group established with the sole aim of ensuring racing did not die in Kent – with Folkestone as the only course in the county.

When the closure announcement was made in July 2012, former SDC leader Cllr Robert Bliss said the council was "very disappointed to learn of the temporary closure".

But 12 months on and the grandstands lay desolate and isolated in the middle of the countryside.

Racing fans from Kent and further afield would travel to Folkestone for races at a course many people say had a unique charm as a smaller regional course.

Adrian Quinnel, from Faversham, said: "I cannot believe this closure is temporary given what has happened to the racecourse and equally am astounded that ARC can get away with what has happened.

"I know many people from Faversham who attended the races at Folkestone, it was our local track. Now we have to go to Lingfield or even further afield."

They have accused owners Arena Racing Company (ARC), which also owns courses up and down the country including Fontwell Park and Chepstow, of running the course into the ground before announcing the closure.

An SDC spokesman said in October: "We have met with Arena since the course closed and they are aware of the procedures they would need to follow if they were to pursue any proposals to improve or redevelop the racecourse."

Full story in today's Folkestone & Hythe Express

Do you have memories of Folkestone Racecourse? Leave a comment below.

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