Radical solution to racecourse’s viewing problems would put lawn out of action for three months
The royal enclosure lawn at Ascot seems certain to be ripped up and relaid as experts grapple with viewing problems at the £185m grandstand.
If this does occur, and the plan must be confirmed by the board at Ascot, it would mean that the royal lawn would be out of action for three months during the spring. It is, however, the favoured option of Peter Rogers, the former chairman of the Strategic Forum, who has been called in to lead the team sorting out the sight lines.
The Rogers team will also investigate problems over the roof where there have been reports of leaks.
The viewing problems at the grandstand, which opened in June, have already led to 1,000 complaints. The problems have been caused by the gentleness of the gradient of the slope at the royal enclosure.
This was set at 1:20 to help wheelchair users and comply with disability legislation, but has inadvertently obscured the views of some ticket holders in the royal enclosure and the main concourse.
Rogers’ team, which includes original architect HOK Sport and the recently appointed consultant Arup, looks likely to recommend tearing up the lawn and doubling the slope to 1:10. This would take place during the grass-growing season in the spring and is expected to require three months.
Rogers was called in last month. He said: “It had all started to get a bit unfriendly between the parties involved, so they called me in to get the original project team to the table to help find a solution.”
“We’ll be looking at alternatives to deal with the disability legislation, such as designating a certain area of the building to cope with wheelchairs.”
The total cost of rectifying the problems at Ascot has been estimated at £1m.
A spokesperson for the racecourse said the work would not affect the running of Royal Ascot in June. Rogers and Rod Sheard, the principal at HOK Sport, said the problems had nothing to do with the grandstand itself nor the design. Sheard said: “It is to do with the track rather than the building.”
Ascot has been hit by the departure of Richard Coffey, the project manager, one of the key men behind the grandstand. Coffey will join the enabling works team at CLM, the Olympic delivery partner this month.
Coffey, who was awarded the MBE for his work on the Millennium Dome, will lead several infrastructure projects.