AN ambitious scheme to give a new lease of life to a landmark inn with close links to one of the country’s first racecourses looks set to be approved.

The North York Moors National Park Authority will consider a proposal to transform the run-down Hambleton Inn, near Sutton Bank, which formed the finishing line for horse racing events more than 300 years ago.

The area is recognised as ‘the home of thoroughbred racehorses and it is said cock fighting was historically practised in the hotel yard, so developers who bought the inn last year aimed to capitalise on its heritage through a major revamp, featuring five retail units, 22 bedroom suites and a gymnasium/spa.

But as the site, which is next to the racing stables of trainers Kevin Ryan and Bryan Smart, could only accommodate 20 parking spaces, the original scheme was recommended refusal by the highway authority earlier this year as there would not be enough spaces to serve the scale of the proposed development.

The Hambleton Hotel and County Club scheme has consequently been cut in scale to 18 en-suite rooms, no gym and spa element, only two retail units and the bar/restaurant facilities would only be available for use by residents of the hotel, while the parking provision increased to 33 spaces.

The scheme has received support from local residents. George Lupton, of nearby Ampleforth, said: “The Hambleton Inn is in a dire state of repair, is an eyesore and sheer waste of business. There are lot of people who would benefit by it becoming up and running again.

“Loneliness, isolation, stress and depression are among the issues which affect rural communities and farmers, so this would be positive for the community; it will also provide local employment.”

However, others have claimed the proposed number of rooms and size of the plans is out of keeping with the original hotel site and would cause noise and security concerns at the nearby yards.

Recommending the authority’s planning committee approves the scheme officers said while it was unfortunate the community facility element of this tourism business had been be lost, the development regenerate of the run-down inn without affecting the area’s character.