Cheltenham Racecourse set for 45million makeover to grandstand and royal box

The Jockey Club unveils ambitious 45m vision for Cheltenham Racecourse

By
Marcus Townend

PUBLISHED:

14:58 GMT, 28 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

21:27 GMT, 28 March 2013

Cheltenham have unveiled plans for a new 45million grandstand to be completed in time for the 2016 Festival.

Officials have dismissed threats
that the biggest commercial project ever undertaken by Jockey Club
Racecourses (JCR), owners of the flagship track, could be hindered by
established boxholders angry at losing their current vantage points.

Visionary: This artist's impression shows how the stand will look after the renovation

Visionary: This artist's impression shows how the stand will look after the renovation

Visionary: This artist's impression shows how the stand will look after the renovation

There had been suggestions that those with boxes in the New Stand, which will be demolished to accommodate the new five-floor development, could seek to protect the old building by applying for Listed Building status.

But a threatened demonstration yesterday failed to materialise and Simon Bazalgette, chief executive of JCR, said: ‘We have confirmation from English Heritage that (the New Stand) does not meet any requirements for Listed status.

‘Cheltenham needs to be considered as a world-class sports venue and it needs to keep pace with what our customers expect. We think it will be one of the most exciting developments not just in racing but in sport for the next few years.’

Officials were keen to point out that there would be elevated viewing terraces at the rear of the stand overlooking the parade ring and raised walkways to aid viewing and crowd flow.

‘They will create a wonderful amphitheatre and ensure the horse is at the centre of everything we do,’ said Ian Renton, JCR’s south west regional director.

Replacement: The new grandstand will have a capacity of 6,500 and will replace a smaller 1920s block

Replacement: The new grandstand will have a capacity of 6,500 and will replace a smaller 1920s block

Replacement: The new grandstand will have a capacity of 6,500 and will replace a smaller 1920s block

JCR are hoping to secure planning permission by the summer to build the stand, which will include a new Royal Box.

Construction should start after the Festival next March with the project completed two months ahead of the 2016 Festival.
The 1,500 spectators now housed in the New Stand, who will be offered
their own dedicated facility in the new build, will be found temporary
facilities during construction but racing will not be interrupted.
Renton said: ‘We will accommodate approximately 6,500 people (5,000 more
than the New Stand) and that will make a difference, particularly on
Gold Cup day which puts huge pressure on facilities.’

Renton added that the additional grandstand space would not necessarily
mean increased capacity but there will be financial pressure to do so
in order to fund such an expensive project. Paul Fisher, managing
director of JCR, denied that the development will be forced to cater for
richer and corporate guests, adding: ‘This is not just a grandstand for
corporate but will improve the experience for all racegoers.’

However, plans do include a ‘Super Club’, with facilities on the top
floor which will be something like the palatial Royal Ascot Racing
Club.

Bazalgette denied suggestions that financial pressure could make an
extra day being added to the Festival more likely or that the meeting
may be moved to include a Saturday.

He added that previous suggestions that a development could include a
hotel or venue for Cheltenham Town football club were not in mind ‘at
the moment’.