Downs House - historic racing yard 'not likely to be developed'
2nd August 2012
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Fears that a historic horse racing yard could become a conference centre are unfounded according to the local MP. 

Epsom and Ewell Council, which owns Downs House in Epsom, took Philip Mitchell to court and got a judgement forcing him out last month. 

Mr Mitchell’s family has been training racehorses there for 48 years -and it was once the home of Eclipse, a thoroughbred from whom 95 per cent of today’s bloodstock is descended. 

The council decided not to renew Mr Mitchell’s lease in 2007, and a judgement at Guildford County Court in June gave him a month to leave. 

But Mr Mitchell has now gone to the High Court for leave to appeal the decision.

The council has refused to reveal its plans for the building until the legal process has ended. 

Mr Mitchell believes it plans to take Downs House out of the racing industry amid rumours it could become a conference centre.

 Mr Grayling who has been in talks with Caroline Baldock, chairwoman of the Epsom Equestrian Conservation Group, about the issue, said he does not believe there is any need to worry.  

He said: "There is no road across the Downs and I don’t think having something like a conference centre there is likely. 

Downs House needs a new trainer who can establish a career there. 

"There has been a big issue of racing stables being abolished in the area in the past, but the council has always been supportive of the need to keep stables in the racing industry so it would be inconceivable to think that it would abolish one that it actually owns."

But Mr Mitchell said: "They have secured the place and no one knows what they are doing with it.

"If the council had any interest in keeping Downs House in racing, they would have negotiated with us as we have been here for 48 years.

"The trainers are literally up in arms about it”. 

Caroline Baldock, chairwoman of the Epsom Equestrian Conservation Group, who launched a petition "to save" Downs House last month, said: "We have had quite a few signatures for the petition. 

"The response has been interesting as we have caused quite a stir." 

Article from Hardeep Matharu at epsomguardian




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