A new function room will open at Ludlow Racecourse – replacing a temporary marquee which has overlooked the home straight for the last 20 years.

Ludlow Race Club has been awarded planning permission for the new marquee function room for the next 10 years.

Bosses say they will use the room to entertain racegoers throughout the national season, with a bar installed.

But also, crucially, it will help the racecourse diversify on non race days and boost the business.

The application is for the erection of a 30 metre x 15 metre, white PVDF-coated tarpaulin, rigid-sided permanent marquee to replace the larger, temporary marquee which is put up when needed.

The currently-named Centre Marquee is a popular venue for weddings, charity functions, corporate hospitality, band nights and themed parties, according to the racecourse.

Liza Randall, for the racecourse, said: "It hosted five weddings in 2018/19 and the intention is to expand that market to 15/20 weddings in 2020.

"Having a permanent marquee on site will increase the revenue to the business, provide more employment opportunities and grow Ludlow Racecourse as an event destination.

"The marquee will be used for entertaining and so will contain a bar, restaurant and seating.

"Currently on race days, Ludlow Race Club Ltd employ over 100 people, from catering staff to veterinary surgeons.

"On a daily basis, it employs 10 staff who work in the office, plus two groundsmen to look after the 30 acres and keep the course in tip-top shape for race meetings."

She added: "Racecourses across the country are being financially challenged due to LBO (Licenced Betting Offices) closures due to new rules and regulations enforced by the Government on gambling, so all courses must seek more non-raceday income streams.

"Ludlow is a popular racetrack with owners and trainers from all over the country and it has retained its heritage and charm by not being over-commercialised and this is an element that the applicants wish to retain.

"Requests are increasing from local people and community groups asking to hire the marquee for functions such as wedding receptions, landmark birthdays and antiques fairs."