A planning inspector today heard closing speeches in a three week inquiry concerning 400 new dwellings at Hatchfield Farm, in Newmarket.
The Hatchfield Farm site has a long and complicated planning history. It was initially allocated for housing development (1,200 homes) by the Forest Heath Core Strategy, which was adopted in May 2010. The housing allocations of that CS were however quashed by Collins J in 2011, in Save Historic Newmarket Ltd v Forest Heath DC  JPL 1233.
In 2012, the first called-in inquiry for Hatchfield Farm took place, in respect of the site owner, Lord Derby’s, application for 1,200 dwellings. That application was refused, on prematurity grounds.
Another application, this time for 400 dwellings, was made by Lord Derby in 2014. The inquiry into that application took place in 2015. The application was opposed by the Newmarket Horsemen’s Group, a body set up at Forest Heath’s request to represent the interests of the horse racing industry in Newmarket. The NHG opposed both on highways grounds and on the ground that the proposal, if granted, would create a perception of harm to the industry in Newmarket, in the context of a precautionary development plan policy designed to protect the industry. The inspector recommended the grant of permission, rejecting the NHG’s case on both grounds. The SoS, disagreeing with his inspector, refused the application. That refusal was itself quashed by the Planning Court, in Moulton PC v SSCLG  JPL 1144. The current inquiry is the re-opening of the consideration of that quashed decision.
Over the previous three weeks, the inspector has heard evidence on two main issues. The first is whether the proposal would give rise either to a severe residual cumulative impact on the highway network, or would have unacceptable safety impacts; the second is whether the proposal would introduce a risk to the long-term viability of the horse racing industry. The inquiry heard extensive expert evidence on traffic modelling and highways matters, as well as on the economics and nature of the horse racing industry.