Pamela Shumba Senior Reporter
THE Bulawayo City Council is considering converting the Ascot Race Course grounds into a residential area.
Professional horse racing was suspended more than 14 years ago at the now defunct race course, formerly owned by the Matabeleland Turf Club.
According to the latest council minutes, the local authority is planning to invite land developers who are interested in developing the piece of land.
“The director of engineering services reported that it had been noted that the former Ascot Race Course grounds had now become deserted ever since horse racing ceased and the lease with Matabeleland Turf Club was cancelled by council.
“Ascot race course was zoned residential and ancillary in terms of local plan No. 5, which covers the area. With the race course area located in an upmarket area and in the vicinity of upmarket suburbs like Woodlands, Suburbs and Kumalo, it’s paramount that strategies be put in place to rejuvenate the area.”
The council proposed that an invitation be extended to companies or developers that would be interested in developing the race course.
Interested developers are expected to submit proposals indicating their proposed developments. “The buildings within the race course, however, have remained in use as these are being leased by various lessors who were conducting businesses like sports bars, restaurants and offices, among others. The tenants leasing these premises had, however, cited lack of business.”
Racing at Ascot race course was suspended in 2001 following a decline in the number of competitors bringing in their own horses for races.
Ascot was the country’s second largest and most established race course after the Borrowdale Race Course in Harare.
Bulawayo competitions’ attracted gamblers from around the globe and many families survived from betting at Ascot and the informal sector also thrived.