Tourist plan has finish post in sight

Newmarket's rich horseracing heritage has received a boost with multi-million pound plans to transform a historic stables site into a major tourist attraction.

Newmarket's rich horseracing heritage has received a boost with multi-million pound plans to transform a historic stables site into a major tourist attraction.

Built by King Charles II, the famous Palace House stables has stood derelict for more than 20 years.

But a £20m scheme by the Home of Horseracing Trust to breathe new life into the redundant site is set to jump the final hurdle next week.

If approved by Forest Heath District councillors, the proposals would see the relocation of the National Horse Racing Museum in the high street to larger premises at Palace House's outer yard, with the inner yard being used to house and retrain retired equine stars.

Peter Jensen, chairman of the Home of Horseracing Trust, said the proposals came after two years of detailed work to get support from the horseracing industry and sponsors to restore the Palace Street stables to their former glory.

"We are delighted that after many months of planning and design we are at a stage where we can announce our plans to return this unique and historic site to a fitting use that will complement Newmarket."

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"Not only will it create local jobs but add significantly to the life, vibrancy and most importantly the economy of the town and the region. This is a good example of the horseracing industry and the town working closely together," he said.

The derelict 17th century stables in Palace Street have been empty since the late Bruce Hobbs retired from racehorse training in 1985 and have been subjected to many vandalism attacks.

The new plans would see the relocation of the British Sporting Art Trust painting collection to Palace House, which is currently used as an exhibition space and Tourist Information Centre.

The National Horseracing Museum, which is in High Street and attracts 11,000 visitors a year, will move into larger facilities at the stables with improved gallery and displays, expanded museum shops, education centre and restaurant.

Fifteen stable boxes will also be refurbished to enable visitors to see retired racehorses.

Warwick Hirst, Newmarket mayor, said: "I think this is something that will really get people talking once it is complete, and it is very exciting for the town.

"Nothing in East Anglia comes anywhere near some of the nation's bigger attractions, but the Palace House stables will really help put us up a notch."

If Forest Heath councillors give the go-ahead on Wednesday, the Home of Horseracing Trust, which is made up of council, museum and racing community officials, will sign a 999- year lease for the land. The trust will then seek funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Europe, private donors and a public funding campaign to realise the proposals.