Setback to efforts to safeguard future of Richmond landmark

The former grandstand at Richmond Racecourse. Photo: Guy Carpenter.

Efforts to safeguard the future of a Richmond landmark have been setback after legal action from a national pressure group.

The Open Spaces Society, a pressure group for the protection of green spaces, has today welcomed a court order setting aside the removal of common land from Richmond Low Moor following the society’s legal action.

In June last year, North Yorkshire County Council granted an application by the Richmond Burgage Pastures Committee to deregister common land at the old racecourse on Richmond Low Moor.

The committee, which owns the moor, hopes that by de-registering the site, it will make it easier to protect the unique piece of British horseracing heritage.

The application included the historic listed grade 2 grandstand, Zetland stand and judge’s box, as well as parts of the common surrounding the buildings.

The committee said that these buildings, once integral to racing on the downs, had significant curtilage which also should be deregistered.

The society objected, because it said that the buildings had not been used for racing since it ended in 1891, and any curtilage they had had in racing days had long since ceased to exist.

The county council granted the application, saying that, “the historic use of the buildings provide [sic] the only reasonable means of considering the extent of any curtilage”.

The society challenged the outcome, and the council agreed to the decision being quashed by order of the High Court.

Speaking today, OSS case officer Hugh Craddock said: “The racecourse buildings on Richmond Low Moor are historic, striking, and much in need of rebuild and renovation.

“We have no objection to their being removed from registration as common land—they should not have been registered in the first place.

“But we do object to additional land being removed from the common on the basis of historical speculation as to how it was used on race days in the eighteenth century.”

A spokesperson for the Richmond Burgage Pastures Committee said they would examine the decision and resubmit an amended application.

It is understood this new application would seek to delist a reduced amount of curtilage around the buildings.