Living at the racecourse in Newbury

PUBLISHED: 14:02 28 June 2013 | UPDATED: 14:02 28 June 2013

Townhouses at the Newbury development

Townhouses at the Newbury development

The first new homes at The Racecourse Newbury have gone on sale and it looks like buyers recognise a winner when they see one, as Jan Raycroft reports

It often feels like Newbury is already my second home. As a lover of racing who can just jump on a train to the course and be trackside within 40 minutes of stepping out of my door, it’s always a tempter.

Then there’s the fact that just a short walk takes you into the lovely town centre with its mix of traditional, independent stores and the Parkway complex.

So the idea of actually living there… perhaps too much of a lure as I’d get nothing else done on racedays and the odds are that my lucky streak in recent months would not continue. But what a fascinating chance this is, whether you enjoy racing or would have trouble telling one end of a horse from the other.

There are several factors in all this. Here we have an address with cachet, views across the course, some overlooking the straight mile. The properties are going to be stylish and elegant, whether you’re choosing apartment-style living, a contemporary townhouse or four or five-bed family home.

Actually we shouldn’t expect anything less as the developers are David Wilson Homes, named Housebuilder of the Year in 2012 and holders for the past four years of the Homebuilders Federation’s Five Star Housebuilder Award.

Over 300 pre-registered potential purchases had the first invitation-only preview of the show home and we’re not surprised that two of the townhouses were snapped up on the day. Paul Crispin, Managing Director for David Wilson Homes Southern says: “The response we have received so far is quite phenomenal and shows that the demand for quality homes at this exciting new development is going to be high.”

This is the first phase, in the Western Area, and features red brick ‘Berkshire’ family homes set in traditional crescents amongst matured oak trees, akin to a London square. It’s impossible not to be impressed by first floor living space offering spectacular views over Stroud Green and the Racecourse’s beautiful grounds.

We found the show apartment nearly irresistible. Just imagine... your own little balcony area to watch all the action. Binoculars, an online betting account, maybe best not to think about that… and instead concentrate on the light, space, glamour – it’s got the lot.

Kitchen fanatics are going to be hard pushed to criticise the fittings which give you a bespoke look. The choice of fixtures, design features and finishes is huge, so it’s very easy to create your unique style throughout the property.

There’s lot of space to spread out in the three-floor townhouses, built in delightful crescents, and how you use the rooms is very flexible. Pick the Middleton design, for instance, and you get a generously-sized living room and kitchen with cloakroom on the ground floor, with a family room, bedroom and bathroom above. The top floor has two more bedrooms, both en-suite.

The Highclere design has a first floor given over to a truly spacious kitchen / dining / living room stretching across 16’2” by 29’. Its ground floor is taken up with a garage, cloakroom, utility room and study, while the second floor has three bedrooms (one en-suite) and a bathroom. There are lots more choices and we expect the four-bedroom Bucklebury with its 1,875 sqft of space, and the even larger Eddington design, to be very popular.

These homes really have a touch of stylish glitz and flair. Yes, you are looking at a showhome here, with all those interior designer tricks that really make it work, but even with all the clever touches stripped out you’d still see the underlying glamour. We loved the way living space opened up into gardens to extend entertaining areas. The editor’s choice would be a townhouse with minimum garden space to maintain. We saw one with a pretty, triangular courtyard style spot perfect for barbecues or lolling in the sun with a good book. There was just a small area in the far point of the triangle, planted out with very decent shrubs. But if you want more space outdoors then reserve the right plot now.

The perfect partnership

This development could set a template for sporting venues in need of investment. That’s all down to having the right amount of land to ensure both racing and homes can sit happily together, and getting over the planning hurdles.

Last December Folkestone closed – for now – after more than 100 years of racing there. Owners Arena Racing Company (ARC) said the course needed total updating and some housing development. Not having Shepway District Council’s support, they decided on closure. It was a similar story at Hereford, shut following a wrangle over the lease, but now five fixtures are to be held this year by the Arabian Racing Organisation under an agreement with ARC.

Eventually David Wilson Homes will have built 1,500 homes at Newbury, with Central and Eastern sites following the current Western development over a 10-years timetable.

At the same time there will be a racecourse development programme. A new parade ring, food and drink outlets, refurbished stables, car parks, new stable staff accommodation and saddling boxes are planned. A new bridge will provide improved access, open before the 250th residential unit is complete. Work on the Central and Eastern residential sites will begin from 2016.

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Who’s moving in?

We suspect a lot of local buyers will be among the first purchasers – good news for the market – but there’s no doubt that those looking to upgrade to ‘nearly’ country-style living from London will get just what they are looking for.

What’s the price?

Prices range from £295,000 to £458,000 and with the government’s new Help to Buy scheme, homebuyers will be able to buy a property with just a 5 per cent deposit.

When will they be ready?

Those interested in securing one of the properties at the racecourse this summer are under starter’s orders to get moving, with the first of the Western Area family homes available to reserve now and ready to move into in a few months time.

Any other advantages?

The first 100 houses sold will also benefit from a year’s membership of The Racecourse, Newbury. There’s a golf course next door, and The Nuffield Health Centre, within the racecourse grounds, has a 25m pool, fitness suite and sauna for members.

How about travel?

Significant upgrade work is being carried out on the Racecourse’s own train station, providing faster connection to London for commuters. Newbury station itself has direct links to Paddington. The M4 is 10 minutes away and Oxford is just over half an hour by car on the A34.

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