District council leader Andrew Mobbs said there had been too much “myth and rumour” surrounding the future of Warwick Racecourse and its key position on St Mary’s Lands, when he addressed members of the executive committee on Wednesday.
Despite a 1,200-strong petition and a strong plea from Nigel Hamilton, chairman of the Friends of St Mary’s group, councillors still voted to recommend the adoption of a new master plan by the full council on November 19.
This involves doubling the size of the existing caravan park in the centre of the racecourse, the development of Warwick Golf Centre and digging up an established wildlife site and replacing it on another part of the parkland.
The recommendations also involve dropping all ideas of working in partnership with The Jockey Club on the management of the land which had absorbed so many hours of council officers’ time. Or the building of a hotel.
The often bitter dispute with Racing Club Warwick is now partly resolved but officers are asked to continue working with the club.
The full recommendations also include making £50,000 available to Warwick Corps of Drums to upgrade their building, which in future might be shared with other community groups, including the Air Cadets.
Mr Hamilton’s petition, which will still trigger a debate, called on the district council to honour the earlier commitments to Warwick residents that no future development of the old public common would impact upon the open nature of the land, or reduce the amount available for free public recreation.
Mr Hamilton, who was deeply disappointed by the executive’s decision not to recommend any further consultation, said: “The location suggested for the caravan park expansion is on open public recreation land directly in front of the Grade II* Hill Close Gardens. Any new master plan should fully account for the £3.2m of public money which had previously been spent.”
But in proposing the new masterplan be approved, Cllr Mobbs said: “There has been too much myth and rumour. We genuinely do care and want the best for these lands.”