Beverley Racecourse has revealed plans for a new grandstand – the largest single investment in the history of the venue.
The racecourse has submitted an application to East Riding of Yorkshire Council for full planning permission for the £4.8m development which will provide an enhanced customer experience and additional hospitality opportunities for racegoers.
The new grandstand will provide improved viewing for spectators, both inside and outside the building; expanded and enhanced catering and hospitality facilities; and fit-for-purpose kitchens, toilets and other amenities.
The grandstand would replace the existing 1960s main stand which has rudimentary facilities and no disabled access beyond the ground floor.
Terracing in the new, fully-accessible grandstand will have tiered viewing areas offering a more casual and social experience for racegoers and bar and dining areas will be glazed so customers can enjoy excellent views onto the course and also back across Beverley’s picturesque Westwood.
The ground floor will feature a new entrance, a large open bar and new gaming area while the first floor will feature a high-quality bistro, for casual dining overlooking the course.
The top floor will provide an extension for the racecourse’s exclusive Premier Enclosure, with semi al fresco dining on a balcony offering unrivalled views of the scenic course.
On non-racedays the grandstand will offer excellent facilities for meetings, conferences, exhibitions, dinners and other events.
Sally Iggulden, Chief Executive at Beverley Racecourse, said: “These plans will provide the racecourse with the modern, fit-for-purpose facilities we need to meet the expectations of racegoers today and into the future, as well as having a competitive offer for other events.
“The new grandstand will be built on the same footprint as the existing stand and be the same height as the current structure, to ensure there is no additional impact on our beautiful setting.
“We’re very sensitive to our location. The existing stand is a bit of an eyesore – it’s a typically 1960s structure that doesn’t blend in particularly well with the surroundings. We’ve been very careful in the design of the new stand to ensure it will complement the Westwood.”
The grandstand project will be managed to ensure there is minimal disruption to racing and racegoers.
If planning permission is granted, demolition of the existing grandstand would begin in September 2019, following the end of next year’s racing season. Foundations and the concrete base for the new grandstand would be put in place during the off season and a new temporary “village” with viewing areas, bars and toilets put in place for the 2020 season.
Construction of the new grandstand would then begin in September 2020, with completion scheduled for April 2021 in time for the start of the next racing season.
Ms Iggulden added: “We’ve remodelled the existing grandstand over the years, but it simply can’t provide what we want and need.
“Instead of making the best of an old building that is no longer fit for purpose, we have decided to make this investment in a new stand which will see us into the future and enable us to retain Beverley’s position as a highly-respected racecourse and venue.
“We’re growing our attendances each year and we continue to be an industry innovator. To continue to do that, and compete in the leisure market, we need modern facilities that give customers what they expect from a day at the races.
“With interest rates at historically low levels there’s no better time to invest in a major capital project. It’s been on our wish list for a number of years and we feel now is the time to go ahead.”
The racecourse is run by the Beverley Race Company Ltd, a not-for-profit organisation managed by a Board of Directors dedicated to maintaining Beverley as one of the North’s longest-established and best-loved racecourses.
All profits from race meetings and other events are ploughed back into delivering an outstanding experience for racegoers and the racing community. Over the past 15 years £7m has been invested in new and improved facilities.
The new grandstand will be financed through a combination of the racecourse’s reserves and funds from lending institutions – the first time the racecourse will have gone out to the market to support investment at the course.
Charles Maxsted, Chairman of Beverley Race Company, said: “We have invested over many, many years in projects that ensure we provide a high-quality venue for racing, primarily, and for other events, and to ensure we have sustainable business.
“As directors we’re very conscious of our role as custodians of a racecourse that has a proud history going back well over 300 years. This development will play a key part in future-proofing the racecourse for generations to come.”
The plans have been welcomed within the racing industry and by partner organisations of the racecourse.
Maggie Carver, Chairman (CORRECT) of the Racecourse Association (RCA), which represents all 59 British racecourses, said: “News of this significant development in building a new grandstand is incredibly exciting for Beverley Racecourse and Yorkshire racing as a whole.
“It is testament to the management that they are committing such resource into developing the facilities, which will enhance the experience for all customers visiting the Westwood. I am confident it will be of great benefit to the local community and economy.”
Rick Bailey, Chief Executive of Daniel Thwaites, which has invested £6m in the much-loved Beverley Arms, which re-opened last month, said: “There is significant investment in a number of areas in Beverley, which is making the future of the town really exciting – it’s one of the things that attracted us to the area.
“Beverley Racecourse is hugely important to the town and wider area, especially the visitor economy, and we know it has a proud record of continually improving its facilities.
“It’s great to see one of the area’s best-loved venues joining with us in investing so significantly and making Beverley an even more attractive place for visitors.”
Sir Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “Beverley Racecourse has been one of the region’s most treasured venues for over 300 years.
“The plans for the new grandstand are very exciting and I have no doubt it will greatly enhance the visitor experience and benefit the local community and economy. I wish the team great success with the development.”