Historic horse racing stand built in 1925 to be converted into family home

The plans for a horse stand to be turned into a four-bedroom house with a balcony
The Cottenham Grandstand used to host racing events where thousands would attend, but after falling into disrepair the building will now be used for housing after being given a new lease of life (Image credit: NP Architects)

A Cambridgeshire horse racing stand dating back to 1925 is set to be converted into a four-bedroom house.

The Cottenham Grandstand had been left since 2021, leading to it being neglected and vandalised, with it now being granted planning permission to be transformed into a home. The planned changes aim to pay homage to the stand's history.

A grandstand steeped in horse racing history

The Cottenham Grandstand was once a popular horse racing stand hosting over 6,000 people in the 1950s for races before its subsequent decline in popularity.

The stand includes a weighing-in room, jockeys changing rooms, offices for stewards and secretaries and toilets as well as three outbuildings that were used as a Master's Hut, Treasurer's Office and toilets.

The structure for the stand currently includes gault brick exterior walls and a corrugated pitched roof.

What are the plans?

The stand is to be converted into a two-storey, four-bedroom house but the architects wanted the home to retain the memory of the building in the design.

They decided "the form of the grandstand is to be retained" and so kept the shape of the stand with the home's entrance facing towards the former racecourse.

NP Architects, who designed the plans, stated: "Both the heritage and distinctive form of the structure offered an exciting opportunity to breathe a new lease of life into the Grandstand by way of conversion to a unique residential dwelling.

"The key concept was to retain the form and to juxtapose the conceptually heavy structural base with a subtle lightweight addition. This was achieved by preserving the existing solid brick construction, openings, distinctive columns and even the signature loudspeaker system, whilst inserting a lightweight, contemporary timber structure to create a complimentary contrast between old and new. A stepped patio and external steps are intended to echo the Grandstand tiers.

"The first floor features an open plan living, kitchen and dining space, a large balcony, and large openings to make the most of the stunning views over the Cambridgeshire countryside."

It was also stated that sliding shutters will be included in the front of the property to prevent light spill (unintentional light and causing glare).

The Master's Hut, that lies within the curtilage of the stand, is also to be taken down and replaced with a garage and office.

Why were the plans allowed?

South Cambridgeshire District Council approved the conversion plans stating it would bring the building back into use.

Planning documents highlight the building had fallen into disrepair and been vandalised in recent years and was last used in 2021.

The council said: “The buildings are not currently in use and have suffered from a lack of general maintenance.

“This proposal will repair and restore the buildings and their setting and secure their long-term preservation.”

NP Architects said: "We were delighted that the scheme obtained planning permission in November 2023, and eagerly anticipate the commencement of this conversion which preserves the legacy of the Grandstand."

Joseph Mullane
News Editor

News Editor Joseph has previously written for Today’s Media and Chambers & Partners, focusing on news for conveyancers and industry professionals.  Joseph has just started his own self build project, building his own home on his family’s farm with planning permission for a timber frame, three-bedroom house in a one-acre field. The foundation work has already begun and he hopes to have the home built in the next year. Prior to this he renovated his family's home as well as doing several DIY projects, including installing a shower, building sheds, and livestock fences and shelters for the farm’s animals. Outside of homebuilding, Joseph loves rugby and has written for Rugby World, the world’s largest rugby magazine.