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Turf Club Members Give Full Backing To Curragh Project Despite Planning Delays

Turf Club Members Give Full Backing To Curragh Project Despite Planning Delays

Decision Taken to Delay Start of Construction to July 2009

At a meeting held in the Curragh yesterday, 3 July, the Members of the Turf Club gave full backing to the project to redevelop the Curragh racecourse whilst at the same time deciding to hold off starting the construction works until July 2009.  The inordinate length of time it took for the €100m project to get through the planning process was cited as a key reason for the decision not to begin the work until 2009.

The combined effect of the long delays coupled with the changing economic conditions has seen the Turf Club re-evaluate all aspects of the project according to Turf Club Chief Executive Denis Egan.  Speaking about the decision Mr. Egan said that no one could have envisaged that the project would spend almost 16 months with An Bord Pleanala after the project had been given permission by Kildare County Council in October 2006.   He said that it may be necessary to re-tender certain aspects of the project.

He said that as part of the re-evaluation that the Turf Club had re-looked at the option of continuing to race at the Curragh during the construction.  “While that was once the preferred option we now believe that, having consulted with our health and safety advisers, it would not be wise to race during the construction.  We also feel that racing during construction could compromise the racegoers racing experience.”   He also added that by not racing it would enable the project to be completed more efficiently, more cost effectively and in the shortest possible time.  He said that racing would finish in the Curragh on 26 July 2009 and would recommence in March 2011.  “Overall we will lose one complete season of racing along with a small number of 2009 meetings.”

The net effect of the closure is that the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby will take place outside the Curragh in 2010.  He said that all of the fixtures affected would be re-located to other racecourses by Horse Racing Ireland.
“While we could begin the project earlier in 2009 to do this would result in us losing two Dubai Duty Free Irish Derbys.  We did not want that to happen hence the decision to postpone the start date of what is in effect Phase 2 of the project until July 26.”  He also said that the Turf Club very much regretted the inconvenience that would be caused to everyone by the closure but that he hoped that people would understand that it was in the best interests of the project to do so.

He said that certain enabling works such as the demolition of the front of the Stand House Hotel would be done in advance of 26 July 2009.  Once racing ceases the first part of the project will see the demolition of the existing grandstand.

Commenting on the decision Mr Nick Wachman, Senior Steward of the Turf Club, said:  “This is a project that is going to help shape the future of Irish racing over the next 50 years.  We believe it is essential that we get it 100% right and that we also get the best possible deal for Irish racing.  While it would not have been our wish to have such delays we do believe that there will be long-term benefits to the project.”

Project History
1. The plans for the proposed redevelopment of the Curragh were first announced early in 2006.  Phase one of the redevelopment, the creation of a new ring road at the back of the current grandstand, was completed in May 2007.

2. While planning permission for the overall redevelopment was received from Kildare County Council in October 2006 the decision was appealed to An Bord Pleanala.  The 16 months in which the project was with An Bord Pleanala included nine separate decision deferrals. Planning permission was eventually received in February 2008.

3. Phase two of the project will see the creation of a new grandstand.  The grandstand which is on four levels and which incorporates a stunning panoramic restaurant on the top level will cater for 900 people.  The other levels will feature state-of-the-art corporate hospitality facilities;  new betting halls and a series of food and beverage outlets.  Phase two also includes the building of a new parade ring and weighroom as well as the upgrading of the existing stable yard and the building of additional stables.

4. The catalyst for the entire project was HRH The Aga Khan’s generous gesture, whereby he purchased and gifted the existing Stand House Hotel to the Turf Club.

For further information, please contact:-
Denis Egan  Tel:  045 445600

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