Caulfield Racecourse/C60


Only 3 councillors (Zyngier, Szmood, & Pennicuik), refused the MRC application for work on the Caulfield Racecourse. This continues the sad history of this council in repeatedly caving in to whatever the Melbourne Racing Club and its political backers want. Whilst the vote last night would in all probability not have changed anything, except as public ‘protest’ vote, at the very least it would send a message to Wynne and the racing industry that councils and the community must be considered first and foremost. Sadly, the majority of councillors decided to grant a permit.

As some of the above councillors stated, this whole issue was gazetted and hence made public, on Christmas Eve 2021. There had been no warning, no consultation with the community or council, and most of the relevant documents still remain hidden from public view. In the meantime, bulldozers and chain saws have been very active in destroying countless trees. This has only been temporarily halted via the imposed interim Heritage Council’s order. There is no guarantee that this order will remain and prevent further destruction. In the meantime we are seeing planning applications like last night’s one basically continuing along its merry way of turning the racecourse into the MRC vision that will include:

  • Night racing
  • Another inside track
  • Massive light towers to accommodate night racing
  • The removal of the second lake
  • Synthetic grass surfaces over much of the inside tracks
  • Plus the recent announcement that the racecourse will be closed for ONE YEAR to allow these works to be carried out.

There are quite a few governance and transparency issues at play here that say a lot about the MRC, Wynne, and also council. Whilst the MRC is legally entitled to approach the Minister directly, and the Minister also has the legal power to ‘adjudicate’ on such applications, we have to condemn the timing, and the secrecy that has taken place. As far as council goes, we believe they also have to be held to account in this whole dismal affair. Here is why –

  • Why did it take residents to initiate the heritage order instead of council?
  • Has council even written to the Minister outlining their concerns? If so, why isn’t this missive public?
  • Why, when council voted to pay over $200,000 to sit in on the trustees for the Land Management Plan, did we get the plan we did? What was council’s contribution? Where was there any specific report back to the community on council’s involvement?
  • Why, when Cr Zyngier last night asked how the application was in accord with Council’s various environmental policies, he was told that the report did exist but wasn’t included in the agenda papers. So once again we are in the situation where councillors are supposed to vote on an important issue, but the information facilitating informed decision making has been with-held. In a follow up question by Cr Zmood asking whether this report will be made public, Torres took the question on notice and said he would have to confirm this. Simply not good enough and not the first time this has happened. The current VCAT hearing on 10-16 Selwyn Street, also did not include council’s heritage advisors report. This was fundamental given that council had twice previously refused the Woolworth’s application and that the VCAT refusal was also largely based on heritage! Our conclusion is that decision making in Glen Eira remains a joke. When councillors, who are tasked with the role of representing the community, are not presented with vital and relevant information to inform their decision making, then any subsequent decision making can only be adjudged as totally suspect.
  • There is much, much more that could be said about this item. Magee has not covered himself in glory once again, by objecting to Zyngier’s comments that council has been treated as ‘children’ or that the current crop of trustees represent an improvement on the past.

What is at stake here is quite simple. When will council stop being the complicit, and cowering bunch of sycophants that fail to fight for their residents, or fail to proffer any public criticism of government. And when will councillors be provided with information that is fundamental to their decision making?

The Melbourne Racing Club (and their development arm) are at it again with the latest development plan for Stage 9 of the Caulfield Village. As in all the previous applications, the Incorporated Plan of 2014 is a completely worthless piece of paper that should be shredded and assigned to the dust bin. At every step of this process, we have had council caving in time and again – on heights, on borders of precincts, on the need for social housing, on open space, on parking requirements. Now we have another application and have to wonder why for such a major development:

  • Why this wasn’t prominently displayed on council’s home page?
  • How many letters were sent out to nearby residents?
  • How long was the advertising period? (which has now closed).

In summary, this application is for:

  • 354 apartments – of which 245 are single bedroom making that 69.2% of proposed units. There will be only 3 three bedroom apartments and the rest are either 2 bedroom or miniscule ‘studio apartments’.
  • Parking spots total 250 and only 8 for ‘retail parking’ – hence a huge shortfall in what is required.
  • Heights will be 14 storeys over two towers
  • Trees will be removed along Station Street
  • Open Space will be in shadow most of the day as will the Boulevard.

THE IMPORTANT POINTS

  • The Incorporated Plan envisaged the maximum height for this precinct at 12 storeys. The recently released Caulfield Station Structure Plan, also had this site as 12 storeys. This increase in height is similar to what has happened with all the other precincts and allowed by this council without any fight whatsoever.
  • We still have Stage 9 and 10 to go – which will be a minimum of 20 storeys and likely much higher!

Of greatest significance to residents is council’s private dealings with the developer and their reactions to the initial plans. The developer’s responses to council’s ‘requests for further information’ luckily include council’s original views in the advertised documents.

When council has previously agreed to documents that establish a projected development of approximately 1100 dwellings, and clearly defined height limits (admittedly discretionary), why do we get double the number of apartments and heights well above what was agreed? Why doesn’t this council fight tooth and nail so that the developer has to comply with the original agreement?

Here is our planning department’s response to the issue of height and parking waivers –

….there are a number of variations sought to the indicative built form shown in the approved development plan and associated controls.

Whilst the Urban Planning Department has no issue in principle with a number of variations, such as the increased height and the reduction in car parking sought, additional justification and supporting documentation should be provided to support all other variations, such as podium setbacks, podium height, etc.

The above says it all we believe!

CLICK TO ENLARGE

PS – AND ON GLEN HUNTLY

We have been forwarded the following letter by a resident. This is in response to an email sent to the Minister.

Please read carefully the highlighted sections. Unless we are mistaken, the decision(s) to pursue the destruction of potential heritage buildings and the further removal of trees has been given the go ahead – again without consultation and which flies in the face of the Heritage Victoria interim order. Put bluntly, the arrogance and complete disregard for the community is beyond belief!

PS – From Parliament Today –

Caulfield electorate

Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) (14:39): (6176) My question is to the Minister for Planning. On Christmas Eve, while many locals were enjoying their holidays, you exercised significant ministerial power under the cover of darkness to remove significant trees and buildings at the Caulfield Racecourse without consultation. Having been aware of the impending plans even a month later, many locals were left shocked when several trees, some 100 years old, were swiftly cut down in January. As a result residents have expressed their outrage that you gave approval for the felling of these trees and the demolition of these significant buildings without proper community consultation. Of particular significance among these trees is an Aleppo pine tree grown from the seed of Gallipoli’s Lone Pine which was also destroyed in the process. Minister, why did you make this order without consultation, and how will you protect the heritage significance of the Caulfield Racecourse precinct going forward?

‘Planning mess’: Outcry over Caulfield Racecourse redevelopment

By Cara Waters and Damien Ractliffe

February 1, 2022 — 12.01pm

The destruction of 100-year-old trees for the redevelopment of Caulfield Racecourse caused community outcry, but local authorities are unclear who bears ultimate responsibility.

Demolition work at Caulfield began on January 10 after a Christmas Eve amendment by Planning Minister Richard Wynne overruled heritage and council controls on the $570 million development of the racetrack and surrounding area.

One of the 42 trees destroyed was an Aleppo pine grown from the seed of Gallipoli’s Lone Pine. The works also involved the demolition of a toilet block and asphalt removal.

Heritage trees were cut down with chainsaws, prompting the interim protection order.

Work stopped this week after Heritage Victoria made an interim protection order on January 27 that means it must sign off on any work in the next four months.

Minister Wynne’s amendment to the planning scheme was requested by the Melbourne Racing Club. A spokesman said the club had done “everything by the book”, and had consulted on its plans with club members, the broader racing industry and the local council.

“We will also continue to do the right thing and work with Heritage Victoria on how we can proceed where appropriate,” the spokesman said.

The Caulfield Racecourse Reserve Trust said it was aware of the planned demolition work but did not realise it would start without any chance for public consultation.

Andrew Paxton, general manager of the Trust, said it was unusual that Minister Wynne approved a planning amendment scheme, which did not require public exhibition, on Christmas Eve.

 “The community of Glen Eira have an expectation of consultation and being engaged,” Mr Paxton said.

The local council said it was “blindsided” by the minister’s actions and the destruction of the trees. The Glen Eira council said it was yet to receive a response from Mr Wynne, confirming it was the Glen Eira Historical Society which applied for, and secured, the interim protection order after some trees had already been cut down.

The local council said it was unaware of the demolition work until it occurred, noting it lodged a request with the government on August 18 last year, seeking Mr Wynne authorise a heritage amendment to protect the racecourse.

“We’re a small little volunteer-run organisation, so not geared up to dealing with an entity like the Melbourne Racing Club,” volunteer Anne Kilpatrick said. “What we’ve come around to realising is that somebody needs to step up for this. In this instance, we thought well, no one else is, we will do that.”

Glen Eira Mayor Jim McGee said the council was “blindsided” by the demolition work. They’ve given the Melbourne Racing Club the go-ahead to do whatever they like, and unfortunately, they’ve started by destroying what I believe to be heritage buildings, destroying heritage trees and just going hell for leather,” he said. “It’s just another example of the Melbourne Racing Club, paying absolutely no attention to residents. They haven’t done it in 150 years, so I’m not surprised that they are not doing it today.”

In a letter to Mr Wynne, Cr McGee said the process for approving the redevelopment work on Christmas Eve appeared misleading and secretive.

“The community are rightly outraged about what’s happening at the racecourse,” he said.

Mr Wynne said the government had engaged extensively with the council, including as recently as last year, on its plans to redevelop the racecourse area into a “people friendly community recreation space”.

 “It beggars belief that the Glen Eira council is claiming to be surprised by the development occurring at Caulfield Racecourse Reserve – which the government has made significant investments in to unlock open space for the community,” he said.

However, many people, including MRC members, said they were surprised by the works.

“We have been racing at Caulfield for 150 years and most people would be very surprised that nothing at Caulfield has any sort of heritage protection,” MRC member Anthony Del Monaco said. “[The] question is why the club, the council or the government haven’t taken action earlier to get heritage protection for this much cherished state asset. and avoided the planning mess that has resulted.”

Member for Caulfield David Southwick MP said the community was consulted about the plans for the construction of buildings and new sports fields, but not about the demolition work or removal of heritage trees and buildings.

“They’ve gone so heavily in terms of consulting with the community about what could be in the middle of the racecourse, yet they’ve forgotten to actually look at protecting some of the heritage value around the actual precinct itself,” he said.

“There’s been no consultation with them, and the fact that the minister on the 24th – Christmas Eve – can effectively rubber stamp something and have these trees, including an Aleppo pine, destroyed I think is really upsetting.”

Mr Southwick said the way the redevelopment was handled had important implications for planning across the state.

“[If] you’ve got one minister, a planning minister, who can do whatever he likes in anyone’s backyard without any third-party appeal, then he’s a real concern for any Victorian right now,” he said.

Source: https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/planning-mess-outcry-over-caulfield-racecourse-redevelopment-20220131-p59si3.html

COMMENT:

The MRC in the above quote, admits to ‘consulting’ with members, race goers, and council. Significantly, the one important omission is the community/residents of Glen Eira.

Also surprising is Council’s claim to have requested interim heritage protection in August last year. There is no formal council resolution that we can find to this effect. Why wasn’t this brought before a full council meeting in order to (1) make this request public, and (2) to ensure full ratification by councillors?

Will council now make public all of its communication(s) with the Minister, the MRC, and with the department? Did Council employ its own heritage advisors or did they rely on the MRC appointed advisors? Were councillors fully aware of any of these meetings, communications?

There are a myriad of questions that need answering from all – including the Minister, the MRC, the Trustees and Council.

CLICK TO ENLARGE

Source: https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/caulfield-racecourse-unveils-570m-sports-entertainment-precinct-plan-20210413-p57iu8.html

Whilst this is undoubtedly a step forward in the long drawn out ‘problem’ of the racecourse, much remains unknown and certainly contentious. Given the Melbourne Racing Club’s history of dealings with council, and overwhelming government support from both sides, answers to the following are essential:

  1. How much of this $570M will come out of ratepayers’ pockets?
  2. Will we have high rise and only a sprinkling of social housing along Neerim Road?
  3. If council is working with the MRC on a business plan, will this be made public?
  4. How many events will the MRC be permitted to hold each year – 100? 200? etc
  5. What will be the impact (noise, traffic, etc) on local residents?
  6. What are the parking arrangements? Will the second lake disappear?

As we’ve stated repeatedly, every aspect of the Caulfield Village planning process for the past 9 years has resulted in council’s rolling over and granting the MRC everything they have applied for. The latest application for Section 7 & 8 development continues this sorry and pathetic tale.

Please note the following:

  • The Incorporated Plan of 2014 stated that there would be between 1000 and 1200 apartments. We are now well over 1200 with the Smith Street precinct (the largest and highest) still to occur.
  • The Incorporated Plan had maximum preferred heights of 5 storeys in the residential precinct. We got 6. The second precinct stipulated 8 and we have 10. The current proposal wants 9 when the incorporated plan says 8 and 6 for the centre. We get 9 and 7. These additional heights are because council refused to fight for MANDATORY provisions plus the fact that they did not stipulate the number of storeys. Instead they simply worked on height according to the Australian Height Datum (AHD) which looks at ground level. In other words, if the land slopes, plus lowering the ceiling heights and it is possible to fit in several more storeys (meaning more apartments) whilst still meeting the AHD requirement. We envisage that the last Smith Street Precinct will be anything from 22 to 24 storeys in height given past history.
  • Following amendment after amendment the developers have succeeded in: decreasing the initially proposed commercial/retail component and instead increasing the number of apartments. Money these days rests in residential, not commercial. All agreed to by council!
  • Council has made much of its ‘social/affordable’ housing policy. When they had the chance to enforce this at VCAT, council voted to abandon the proposed amendment with the argument that it would cost too much. What is still to be determined is whether the ambition of a 5% social/affordable housing component is 5% of the entire project, or simply 5% of the current application. Even this has been watered down to 16 apartments instead of 21!!!!! Again acceptable to council going by the officer’s recommendation.

The Current Proposal 

Here’s the breakdown of the major aspects of the proposal:

  • 437 apartments
  • 4 buildings of 7 storeys, 2 of 9 storeys
  • 94 studio apartments (average size 40 square metres)
  • 191 single bedroom apartments (average size 50 square metres)
  • 142 two bedroom apartments (average size 70 square metres)
  • 10 three bedroom apartments

That makes it 2.28% of dwellings that are three bedrooms. Council calls this satisfying the planning scheme’s clause regarding ‘diversity’ 

Worthy of mention is that there is not a single word in the officer’s report that mentions size of actual apartments, no figures are provided on overshadowing or overlooking. Basically we get an officer’s report that is devoid of all detail and strategic justification for the recommendation of a permit. Instead we find the following nonsense:

As part of the Whole of Land plans, it was originally anticipated that the Mixed-Use Precinct (which encompasses Stages 4-8) would have a residential yield of 732 dwellings, a supermarket space of 4000 sqm, retail space of 3,658 sqm and 798 sqm of office space.

The proposed mix is now 834 dwellings, 3,800sqm of supermarket space, 2,646sqm of retail space and 798 sqm of office space. This represents an increase in dwelling numbers (102 additional), a decrease in supermarket and retail space (by 400 sqm). The proposed office space remains the same. 

The increase in dwelling numbers has been managed within the permissible building envelope while maintaining an acceptable mix of dwelling sizes. This is considered to be consistent with the Incorporated Plan. 

Are we then supposed to accept the statement that 2.28% of apartments represents an ‘acceptable mix of dwelling sizes’? What then becomes ‘unacceptable’? And how is this considered to be ‘consistent’ with the Incorporated Plan when nothing is stated in the plan except the desire for ‘diversity’?

Interestingly, nothing in the officer’s report mentions the fact that a previous amendment to the development plan increased the size of the Mixed Use precinct. Council did not object and hence granted the MRC land that could then be developed even more as opposed to its original designation as ‘residential’!!!!!

Parking Waiver(s) 

Since council is such a stickler for claiming that everything is established via the Incorporated Plan, it is therefore amazing that the developer has asked for a car parking waiver of 154 spots and council officers think this is okay!! So much for the ‘certainty’ that residents were told again and again was provided as a result of the Incorporated Plan.

Here’s the council’s excuse for another cave in:

Council’s Transport engineers have reviewed the information provided and agree with the reduced rates for the supermarket, retail uses and the reduced rate for the 1 and 2 bedroom dwellings.  

This is considered worthy of support because there will be a number of residents across this development who are attracted to the location because of the excellent public transport options which negate the need for a private vehicle. 

Affordable Housing 

Instead of achieving 21 apartments under the banner of ‘affordable housing’, we now find that this has been reduced to 16 only. We have no problem with the provision of 2 or 3 bedroom apartments. Our problem is with the proviso that the ‘net floor area’ originally planned remains the same! There is nothing in the Incorporated Plan regarding net floor area for social housing. Another brilliant move by our council.

Even more disquieting is the fact that these arrangements will only be for 10 years!!! What happens after that? Will tenants be tossed out and the apartments sold off? And what of the entire precinct since it is not earmarked to be sold but 437 apartments to be rented out! The potential slums of the future perhaps? Also, neatly sidestepping the requirements for student accommodation, the studio and single bedroom apartments are not called ‘student accommodation’. What are the chances that they will be anything but student accommodation given their size and proximity to Monash Uni? Again, nothing in the officer’s report about this loop hole!

CONCLUSION

The willingness of this council to bend over backwards to facilitate more and more inappropriate development is again being displayed. Every aspect of Glen Eira’s dealings with the MRC has been disastrous for the community. This latest application is simply one more in the long line of disasters!

PS: we forgot to mention that because of the ‘wisdom’ of Hyams, Esakoff, Pilling & Lipshutz at the beginning of the proposals, there is NO VISITOR CARPARKING ALLOCATION for anything that is developed on this site!!! Thus over 2000 apartments will not have to provide for visitor car parking.

Structure planning is complex. It is supposed to be accompanied by indepth analysis that leads to valid strategic justification. It is also meant to be done with significant community input. At least that’s what the State Government’s Practice Note No 58 says. Here’s just one example, from many, to be found in this document: Community engagement is essential for the structure plan and involves the wider community and may include targeted consultation.

The Practice Note also goes on to state that a ‘Discussion Paper’ is an important part of the process. This Discussion Paper should also: identify existing and proposed built form outcomes based on a comprehensive built form analysis

Interestingly, the VPA (government’s development arm) has neatly sidestepped this requirement in its current survey for the Caulfield Station Precinct. Plus, all previous ‘vision statements’ have also ignored this important component. We have plenty of ‘vision’ statements, plenty of feel good generalisations, plenty of motherhood statements about ‘sustainable development’, ‘high quality architecture’ and so on. What is missing entirely is anything that would provide a clue as to ‘built form outcomes’. Residents are being asked to respond to a survey which is basically meaningless and intentionally evasive. We have absolutely no idea of:

  • How high will buildings be allowed to go?
  • What will happen to heritage overlays that currently exist?
  • What setbacks are being considered and why?
  • What are appropriate overshadowing requirements?
  • How many apartments can satisfactorily be housed in the area?
  • What parking arrangements are being made?
  • How will Monash and the Melbourne Racing Club be ‘accommodated’ in terms of building heights and use of open space?
  • What levies are likely to be imposed on developers?

So instead of a Discussion Paper that provides some answers to the above, we get the following type of questions shown below. We note that the answers are a given. No one in their right mind would object to ‘sustainable development’, access to open space, etc. This is simply another example of a Clayton’s consultation that leads exactly where the developers want it to go! We will only receive some inkling of what’s in store when the draft structure plan is published. By then it will be far too late! Council should be congratulated once again for its appalling processes in (not) working with the community in an open and transparent fashion.

PS: WHILST THE MRC CONTINUES ALONG ITS MERRY WAY, THE TRUSTEES HAVE COME UP WITH THE FOLLOWING DRAFT/VISION AS PART OF THE ‘LAND MANAGEMENT PLAN’. (uploaded crrt)

 

$300 million revamp for Caulfield racetrack — see the plans

Caulfield racecourse is set to undergo a $300 million makeover.

Among the changes include:

  • a new grandstand
  • a second racetrack
  • a new spectator entrance
  • revamped horse stalls and parade rings

If approved, the first stage could start as early as late 2019.

The Melbourne Racing Club is preparing to officially unveil its vision to create “a world-class racing and entertainment venue” and give an update on Sandown racecourse.

Training will stop at Caulfield in November 2023 so 18 hectares in the in-field can be redeveloped for public use.

But the MRC has told the Herald Sun, it has no plans to develop Sandown into a training centre and racing activities are set to stay.

The VRC opened a new members’ stand at Flemington last year and Moonee Valley Racing Club is embarking on a radical $2 billion project, which includes reorienting the racetrack so racegoers can face the city.

Source: https://www.3aw.com.au/300-million-revamp-for-caulfield-racetrack-see-the-plans/

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Caulfield’s $300m redevelopment

Andrew Eddy@fastisheddy

Caulfield is to gain a second inside turf track to be used primarily for night racing as part of a $300 million redevelopment.

The Melbourne Racing Club plans also include a new grandstand as well new horse stalls and parade rings with work potentially beginning on the major revamp by late this year.

But as for the MRC’s Sandown racecourse, it’s future is still unclear as it goes through a re-zoning process that could take up to two years.

MRC chief executive Josh Blanksby explained on Wednesday the second turf track could mean Caulfield’s meetings per season could rise from around 25 to as many as 45 with Wednesday night and the night before public holidays identified as potential dates to hold night racing meetings.

Training is to cease at Caulfield in 2023 so it is expected the $300 million redevelopment could be completed by 2025.

Blanksby told RSN’s Racing Pulse on Wednesday that the securing of a 65-year lease last year for racing at Caulfield meant the club could move forward with long-held redevelopment plans for the 18-hectare space that will be freed-up when training ends at the site in four years.

“That secures our home at Caulfield and that means today we can announce what we see as our vision of a complete redevelopment at Caulfield of all our facilities – our grandstand, day stalls, mounting yard and also the exciting prospect of a second track – an inner track at Caulfield and also lights as well so to really allow Caulfield to become that precinct, that world-class entertainment facility.”

Blanksby denied the sale of Sandown was integral to the Caulfield redevelopment. He said the club enjoyed “a number of assets and holdings and business interests” including the adjacent Caulfield Village development.

But he said it would be remiss of the club not to evaluate the Sandown site and have it rezoned to prepare for a potential new future.

As part of the redevelopment, the MRC-owned land on Caulfield’s western end is likely to be used for residential redevelopment while both the the Hiskens and the Norman Robinson stands in for facelifts.

The project has been well received by Racing Victoria with chief executive Giles Thompson claiming the upgrade would mean Caulfield a truly world-class racing and entertainment centre.

Source: https://www.racing.com/news/2019-05-22/news-caulfield

After at least 150 years of the racing industry’s supremacy over the community, nothing much appears to have changed with the newly announced lease signing and the appointment of the new trustees.

Much is still unclear, but the following questions need answering:

  • Will the community be privy to the fine print of the lease agreement? Is the removal of training binding in this agreement?
  • Will the trustees publish a map that clearly outlines the land under the lease and which is freehold land?
  • How was the figure of $300,000+ per annum arrived at when previous evaluations were in the million dollar range? Why is the MRC, with its vast resources, being given literally a peppercorn rental and will this rental apply only until the removal of training or for the duration of the 65 year lease?
  • Will the introduction of night racing mean more racing events? How will these events impact on the local community?
  • Can residents expect residential development on the freehold land?
  • Will light towers now predominate across vast areas of crown land?
  • Will a new track mean further encroachment onto public open space and the further proliferation of lego land – ie white fences?

Despite the work of the various spin doctors we do not see this as anything else apart from another victory for the Melbourne Racing Club! A couple of soccer pitches do not warrant this buckling at the knees!

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