West Suffolk Local Plan (Regulation 18) Issues and Options October 2020

2.5. Newmarket

2.5.1 Newmarket is a market town which has a population of approximately 16,941 (ONS 2018 mid-year estimate) and is located south of the A14, some 18 kilometres west of Bury St Edmunds and 16 kilometres east of Cambridge. There are a good range of services and facilities available within the town including:

  • town council offices and the Memorial Hall, Kings Theatre
  • police, ambulance and fire station
  • two nursing homes
  • three GP surgeries
  • five primary schools
  • one upper school
  • six dental practises
  • a hospital providing outpatient services
  • a library
  • Sports centre, swimming pool and Studlands Park Community Centre.

2.5.2 Newmarket town centre serves the retail and leisure needs of the local catchment area.

2.5.3 Newmarket is a centre for the British Horse Racing Industry (HRI) which has an important economic and cultural role in the town. The town is the international home of horseracing with approximately 3,000 racehorses, 89 licensed trainers, 62 stud farms, 1,133 hectares of training grounds and hundreds of stable staff within and around the town (more than anywhere else in the world). Newmarket is a unique centre for the HRI with no comparable economic importance and location elsewhere in the world.

2.5.4 However, the town also has its own issues, which include a lack of affordable housing to meet the needs of people within the town, including those employed within the racing industry itself. While equine related employment is the largest single sector, some 65 per cent of the overall employment in the town is in other businesses, including financial/business services, retail and manufacturing/engineering.

2.5.5 Newmarket’s High Street runs for one mile from the Jubilee Clock Tower to the Cooper Memorial Fountain. The High Street and its surrounding streets contain Newmarket’s historic core, the main shopping area (including a twice weekly outdoor market on the High Street), horseracing training stables and visitor attractions including the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art and a centre for the retraining of racehorses.

2.5.6 The High Street has a relatively low vacancy rate although the town’s independent retailers face the same problems affecting many market towns across the UK in the form of competition from internet shopping, the proliferation of chain stores, an over-representation of charity shops and bookmakers, and a night time economy which serves a young demographic.

Constraints and opportunities

  • The town is rich in archaeology and listed buildings with the historic core of the town and historic racing yards and stables designated as a conservation area. Devil’s Ditch, a scheduled ancient monument (SAM), is situated to the south-west of the racecourse.
  • The town centre has a substantial comparison goods offer and a comprehensive range of services.
  • There is an opportunity to build on the tourism opportunities created by the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art
  • Land running north/south through the middle of the settlement lies within Flood Zones 1 and/or 2 according to data provided by the Environment Agency. The Newmarket Surface Water Management Plan has developed proposals for reducing flood risk in the town.
  • Land to the east and south-west of the settlement is within the Newmarket Heath Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
  • Planned growth may require expansion/provision of additional pre-school settings and primary and secondary school places.
  • Newmarket has an air quality management area (AQMA) centred on Old Station Road from the clock tower to the junction with Rous Road. The impact of any future growth on air quality needs to be considered.
  • Growth in surrounding settlements such as Kentford and Exning may have the potential to impact on Newmarket’s infrastructure.
  • Coalescence with the settlement of Exning to the north-west of Newmarket should be avoided.
  • settlement expansion is significantly constrained by the horse racing industry and its associated land uses as other policies within the local plan seek to safeguard the racing industry and its assets.
  • There is a need to carefully manage the movements of vehicles and horses within the town to avoid conflict.
  • Newmarket benefits from good public transport infrastructure which includes a railway line that connects the town to Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, Cambridge and beyond, and proximity to the A14 and A11. The council is working with Suffolk County Council and other stakeholders to identify improvements in the delivery of rail and other transport networks.
  • there is an opportunity to improve the offer and vitality of Newmarket High Street including its market.
  • An established retail park and employment area lie to the north of the town.
  • The Yellow Brick Road is a locally named green corridor which follows the alignment of Newmarket Brook (formerly known as the No 1 Drain) through Newmarket from Studlands Park to central Newmarket providing pedestrian and cycle access and connecting open spaces.

2.5.7 Newmarket continues to function as a market town serving the retail, leisure and cultural needs of the local catchment area and there is no change proposed to its status as a town on the settlement hierarchy.

2.5.8 The former Forest Heath area Site Allocations Local Plan (2019) allocated five residential sites (371 dwellings) and two mixed use sites (450 dwellings, 5ha of employment land and a 2.2ha school site)). Of these, 146 dwellings have planning permission as of October 2019.

2.5.9 In December 2015 Newmarket was designated a neighbourhood plan area. The neighbourhood plan was made in February 2020 and becomes part of the development plan.

Site options

2.5.10 The level of development will be influenced by the settlement strategy which will determine the distribution of development across the district as well as the existing environmental and physical constraints and the overall capacity for growth in the settlement.

2.5.11 A number of sites have been submitted to the council by landowners and developers for potential inclusion in the local plan. Included sites in the Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (SHELAA) that lie within or adjacent to the settlement boundary are shown on the map below, as these have passed the initial tests of being suitable, available and achievable, and so are more likely to be sites that could be suitable for allocation in the local plan.

2.5.12 It is important to note that at this stage these sites have not been selected as preferred sites for development, but we are seeking views on them to assist with the preparation of the next draft of the plan, where decisions will be made on which, if any, sites would be suitable for allocation.

2.5.13 The table below provides information on these sites, setting out information on the proposed use and planning status. Also below is a map of the main settlement constraints to assist you in making a response.

2.5.14 Your comments on these sites will help in drawing up the next draft of the West Suffolk Local Plan for consultation in 2021. This will set out the council’s preferred options for the distribution of housing and other land uses across the district. The council will also consult on the preferred sites across the district to achieve this distribution.

Newmarket settlement constraints map


Newmarket settlement map showing SHELAA included sites


Newmarket - included SHELAA sites

2020 reference

Site name

Area (hectares)

Proposed use

Current use
planning status

Indicative capacity*[1]


Land at Hatchfield Farm, Fordham Road


Mixed use

allocated SA6(g)
planning permission granted



St Felix Middle School



School and playing fields
allocated SA16(d)



Southern portion of Brickfield Stud, Exning Road



allocated SA6(a)
planning permission granted



Exning Road, South Drive


Residential (care home)

Allocated SA18(a)
planning permission granted



Land at Phillips Close and grassland off Leaders Way and Sefton Way



allocated SA6(c)
planning application pending decision

62 dwellings and a wardened 20 unit young persons' residence


Land at Black Bear Lane and Rowley Drive


Mixed use

Former swimming pool, listed building and paddocks
allocated SA6(b)



Land south of Barbara Stradbroke Avenue


Horseracing associated uses, leisure uses and a hotel

Horseracing related uses

Land in horseracing use.

1. *an indicative capacity of 30 dwellings per hectare is applied unless the site is already allocated or has planning permission. For sites over 100 dwellings, 40 per cent of land set aside for infrastructure. [back]