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Newbury Racecourse hotel extension given green light by West Berkshire Council

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Plans to extend the hotel at Newbury Racecourse have been given the green light.

The owners of the racecourse have been granted planning permission to add a three-storey extension containing 40 bedrooms to The Lodge, taking the total up to 76.

They were also given permission to operate the hotel 365 days a year, at a meeting of West Berkshire Council’s Western Area Planning Committee on March 17.

The Lodge was originally used to accommodate stable and racecourse staff during race days, but in March 2016 the owners of the racecourse were granted permission to use that building as a hotel for 305 days a year.

According to the owners, there is “a limited demand” for accommodation for stable and racecourse staff, as they only use around 10 rooms at The Lodge on race days as most “prefer to travel home or onto the next race meet”.

Nobody from the racecourse attended Wednesday’s meeting, where several councillors criticised their extension plans.

Councillor Tony Vickers (Liberal Democrat) said: “They are not really interested in providing footfall in Newbury town centre.

“Having a hotel on the racecourse site itself will means it’s far less likely that visitors spend time in the delightful old town of Newbury. I’m very sad about that.”

In November 2011, plans to build a 123-room hotel on the racecourse site were approved by the council, but it has not been built.

The owners announced they had scrapped plans for that £20m hotel in 2019, and now they want to extend The Lodge instead.

Councillor Hilary Cole criticised the “piecemeal development” and the owners' “not really well thought out business plan”.

She added: “They should have thought about the implications of investment in a larger hotel before now.

“They’ve scrambled to cobble together a hotel from the stable lads and lasses accommodation, rather than actually investing in anything more.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, the council agreed to alter a legal agreement, so it now states that a maximum of 123 hotel bedrooms can be built across the racecourse site.

That means the racecourse owners cannot build that 123-room hotel while The Lodge is open.

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