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York Racecourse £5m plan to transform the Southern End approved.

York Racecourse is pleased that the City of York Council planning authorities have given the green light to a planning application to transform the area of the racecourse which lies to the south of the Knavesmire Stand. It forms part of its ongoing strategy to retain York’s place as one of the world’s best racecourses.

This £5m investment will see improvements in facilities for racing fans with additional lawns, seating, catering outlets, toilets,  bars, betting facilities and big screens, all landscaped to reflect the summer nature of the venue.

Set for delivery in the summer of 2024, work will now start, to take best advantage of the autumn weather.

The ability to follow races live from both the Bustardthorpe Stand and Knavesmire Stand will be retained. The latter continues to deliver for racegoers as a comfortable modern grandstand.

The vision is to create racegoer lawns, centralised beneath a high-level canopy, similar to the John Carr canopy which has been keeping racegoers at the Northern End of the venue dry since 2015.  Extensions and improvements to the food and drinks on offer, toilet facilities, betting and screen viewing also form part of the plan.  In addition, back of house facilities for the raceday team, which can be up to 1,500 strong, are being transformed, in keeping with a world class venue.

Highlights of the scheme include:

  • Refurbishing and better presenting the 1913 Bustardthorpe Stand, which offers live viewing of the racing;
  • Replacing the existing 1950’s single-storey extension to the rear of the Bustardthorpe Stand, with a high-quality extension to compliment the work of famous York architect, Walter Brierley;
  • An improved Theakston’s Bar, William Hill betting shop, toilet facilities and food outlets;
  • The creation of two new racegoer lawns with an overarching canopy similar to that covering the John Carr Terrace;
  • A better arrival experience, including refurbished entrance with feature gateway and enhanced accessibility;
  • Landscaping continuing York Racecourse’s award-winning flowers, herbaceous borders, hedges and tree planting;
  • Conversion of the temporary Roberto Village Bar facilities into a permanent feature, single storey building, offering food, bar and betting;
  • Environmental and sustainability features designed throughout, including solar panels, sustainable water provision, green living roof and infrastructure to support the Racecourse’s recycling initiatives – all in support of York’s “Green Knavesmire 300” Environmental Strategy to be net zero by 2040.

This scheme, developed by Yorkshire firm Dawson Williamson Architects, is to improve the facilities for York’s Grandstand and Paddock racegoers following recent multimillion pound schemes to improve the experience for both the County Stand racegoer in the Northern End Development (2014-15) and Clocktower Enclosure (2018).  The focus is to further improve a visit to York for racegoers, visitors and the home team, it is not about growing attendance.

With the permissions now in place, the main contractor, York based Lindum assisted by a wider team of local trades, will commence the major works right after the October Meeting, with the intention of being open for the busy days in the 2024 season.  This means some operational changes for that final meeting, with racegoers wanting a pint of the Ebor IPA having it served in the Dayjur Bar in the Knavesmire Stand, whilst the Theakston Bar itself forms part of the redevelopment.

Mindful of both new and old neighbours, a full plan will be implemented with the trusted local contractor to best manage the site traffic and delivery of the development.

William Derby, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course, said “With the green light now given to what is both an exciting and carefully considered scheme, I am delighted that work can get underway to further improve the experience of racing on the Knavesmire. It is only right to thank the team involved in getting us to this stage, I look forward to working with them to deliver it. These improvements are another sign of the clear vision held by the York Race Committee to ensure we remain one of the world’s best racecourses. The Committee has a track record of investing in the facilities, race programme and visitor experience.  This latest chapter aims to improve the facilities for racegoers in the Grandstand and Paddock area, following similar recent investments elsewhere.  As a summer venue, we want to provide lawns to enjoy, however we are mindful of the Yorkshire weather, so we are looking to repeat the success of the canopy that sits above the John Carr Terrace. Practical concerns around a better arrival experience, more loos and easier access to both food and drinks and how we better support our raceday team, all form part of this ambitious scheme. Having launched our Green Knavesmire 300 Environmental Strategy earlier this year, this application embeds key sustainability aspects, notably solar panels, green roofs and sustainable water provision. We are pleased that planning has been granted, with many positive comments on the application, so the focus now switches to delivering these improvements for the busy racedays of 2024.”.