A proposed development of the Trentham racecourse that promises to revitalise the venue and futureproof racing at the track has been described as "a development of a kind that the city has never seen before".
RACE Inc, which administers several Central Districts racing clubs racing at Awapuni and Trentham, has unveiled ambitious plans to redevelop Trentham into a "world-class racing facility" offering stake money "unheard of in this part of the country".
The project has been shortlisted for Kāinga Ora’s $1 billion Infrastructure Acceleration Fund and RACE Inc chief executive Tim Savell said the project could see Trentham developed to include apartment blocks housing around 1800 people, a shopping complex and other community amenities as part of an overhaul of the racetrack's public areas.
"It’s no secret that spectator amenities are beginning to slip behind what is being offered at other key racing and sports venues in New Zealand and Australia," Savell said.
"We are hopeful of a stunning transformation that will secure the future of racing at Trentham for decades to come. Racing in the capital will go from strength to strength in the coming years."
The Upper Hutt City Council submitted the redevelopment proposal to Kāinga Ora as one of four options for future growth within its boundaries and Savell pointed out that Trentham was ideally positioned to take advantage of the relaxation in planning rules for sites adjacent to railway stations.
Savell said the key to the project was unlocking the value of the land to provide certainty for racing at the track for years to come.
"It's not about selling off the land. We'll still own the land but we'll find a way of having modern facilities with increased stakes in this part of the country.
"We want to reassure everyone that the Trentham racecourse has a bright future. We're planning sustainable development that benefits racing first and foremost. We're here to look after racing at the track and this is the best way to do that.
"It's just so exciting. It's great we're in a position to get the industry moving forward. Not every racetrack can do this. It's the best way forward."
Upper Hutt developers Gillies Group would lead the project with Malcolm Gillies describing Trentham as an ideal site for the next wave of growth.
“We’re delighted to be partnering with RACE Inc as they take thoroughbred racing in the capital to the next level,” he said.
“This will be a long and comprehensive development of a kind that the city has never seen before, and we can’t wait to get started.”
RACE Inc chairman Paul Humphries was excited by the project, which could begin as early as next year.
“This is the best opportunity to futureproof the Trentham Racecourse while fulfilling our obligations to the community to be a vibrant and prosperous neighbour,” he said.
“As a not-for-profit racing organisation we will always put our sport first, but we also feel that as owners of the racecourse, we have a moral obligation to safeguard what is one of the largest green spaces in Upper Hutt.”
Wellington Racing Club president Wayne Guppy, who is also the mayor of Upper Hutt City, said the project offered a "huge opportunity" for both the club and the city.
“We look forward to the decision from Kāinga Ora with interest and of course if successful then all standard resource consenting processes will still take place.”
RACE Inc will find out at the end of the month whether it has been successful in securing funding through Kāinga Ora’s Infrastructure Acceleration Fund with funding and housing agreements set in place before the end of October.
However, Savell said the development would go ahead whether RACE Inc secured Government funding or not.