Category Archives: Caulfield Racecourse Reserve

Posting related to the use of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve – designated for 3 separate yet equal purposes; Racecourse, Public Park and Public Recreation Area.

CAMP MAGEE (a.k.a. Camp Caulfield) – OPEN UP THE RACECOURSE

Update 2/6/2016 – CAMP MAGEE TEMPORARILY HALTED

Camp Magee has been temporarily dismantled  – the magnitude of public and media attention generated by the “Bear” has been such, that the State Government is “more actively” progressing their review of the MRC’s occupation of the Caulfield Racecourse and Recreation Reserve.

Therefore, Camp Magee and next Saturday’s wrap up session are now deferred to give the newly appointed Minister (Lily Ambrosio) time to assess the current situation and determine the best way forward.

The “Bear”, with his tent,  promises to return if required (something we hope doesn’t eventuate).

A big thank you to the “Bear”, the media and the public for their efforts in highlighting this significant issue.

For those of you who missed viewing the centre parkland while Jim was in residence,  don’t let that deter you from visiting the centre parkland.   It’s an awesome sight and a tremendous community asset that is under utilized by the community.

**************************

Update 31/5/2016 – The Age 31/5/2016 – The Age

***************************

GERA original posting – 28/5/2016 below

002

Cr. Jim “Bear Grylls” Magee has set up a week long camp* on the 5584 sqm of neglected crown land  located near the Glen Eira Road roundabout.  This land was a major part of the infamous land swap and was to become parkland that provided visual and physical above ground pedestrian access to the public parkland in the centre of the racecourse.

The purpose of “Bear” Magee’s camp out is to highlight the inequitable racing vs public use of the Crown Land known as the Caulfield Racecourse and Recreation Reserve and the need for Government action.  The camp out will end next Saturday (4/6/2016) at 1.00 p.m. with  a wrap up session attended by the  Minister responsible for the Reserve’s management (the newly appointed Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change – Lily D’Ambrosio), the Minister for Sport (John Eren) and various media representatives.   Residents are also urged to attend to show their support for the “opening up” of the Racecourse for public parkland usage.

* You can follow “Bear” Magee’s progress on Twitter

For those of you who don’t know, we re-iterate – the Caulfield Racecourse and Recreation Reserve was created by a Crown Grant in 1858 with the grant being formally enacted in 1876.  Under that Grant and all subsequent legislation, the primely located Reserve has 3 separate yet equal purposes of racecourse, public park and public recreation ground (ie. 33% racing and 67% public usage).

As per the scathing Auditor General’s Report (September, 2014), since the late 1990s mismanagement by the Board of Trustees and lack of Governmental oversight, has resulted in the Reserve’s current 54 hectares (valued at $2 bn) having the following usages*

  • 11 hectares (20%), is leased by the Melbourne Racing Club (MRC) for a flat rate of approx. $170,000 p.a.   The lease revenue is paid to the Trustees who generally return it to the MRC to fund racing related projects (as opposed to parkland related projects).  All revenue derived from the commercial activities (including the Glasshouse Tabaret) held on the Reserve land is retained by the MRC.
  • 37 hectares (69%) is used by MRC without any clear legal entitlement or payment arrangement.
  • 6 hectares (11%) is open space for potential use by the community 328 days p.a. (ie. excluding racing – 27 days p.a. and major MRC commercial event days – 10 days p.a.) and during prescribed hours (ie. 10 am. to dusk).   The 6 ha is not visible from the surrounding streets, is difficult to physically access and comprises limited facilities that don’t meet park users’ needs.

* ie. 89% racing and 11% public usage

In short, the Auditor General’s Report (which concurred with the findings of the earlier 2008 Legislative Council Select Committee Report on Crown Land Management) found that the current Crown land management arrangements over the reserve are untenable from a public interest perspective  …. attention urgently required”.

21 months after the tabling of the AG’s report there’s been talk but little action on the part of the Government.  Meanwhile

  • the above usages and leasing arrangements remain in place, to the advantage of the MRC and the detriment of the public.
  • the centre of the racecourse, which is the area originally set aside for public usage, sits empty most days (except for the 27 race days and 10 major event days p.a. when it is used as a car park) and every evening after dusk
  • innumerable children and adults are unable to play sport or train within their own Municipality because demand far exceeds supply.

“Bear” Magee is asking, on behalf of residents, for the Reserve’s current inequitable usages to be aligned with the three separate yet equal purposes.  Undertaking a week long camp out (without any facilities) in Melbourne, in June, is no mean feat.     GERA thanks him for his efforts and is a strong supporter of the cause.  GERA also urges residents to show their support by

  • going to view what they are missing out on (by accessing the racecourse centre via the Glen Eira Road Tunnel), then stopping for a chat with “Bear” Magee afterwards, and
  • attending the camp out wrap up session next Saturday.

Finally, words of wisdom from the past

The Argus, 16th August, 1884 (8 years after Grown Grant was enacted).

Extract of a meeting between the  Minister of Lands (Mr. Tucker) and VATC (Victorian Amateur Turf Club, later became the MRC) re management of the reserve being vested in the VATC

 “It seemed to him (Mr. Tucker) that to agree to the proposals of the club would be to limit to some extent the right of the public to use the ground for the purposes for which it was originally reserved – namely, for recreation and a public park. … The vicinity of the Caulfield racecourse would no doubt soon be thickly populated, and the value of the reserve to the public would then be widely enhanced.   …  Mr. Tucker said he thought the public ought not to have to ask for permission to go on a public reserve. ”

28/5/2016 – Residents wanting to play sport at the Glen Eira Road Tunnel Entrance Gates

018

 

Racecourse and Recreation Reserve – Opportunity for Change ???

Wednesday, 16th September, 2015, saw the conclusion of the two Caulfield Racecourse and Recreation Reserve Trust consultations (presented by Trust Chairman Greg Sword and Landscape Architect, John Patrick) which sought community input into the initial stages of Trust’s preparation of a “Strategic Land Management Plan” (SLMP) for the Caulfield Racecourse and Recreation Reserve”. 

BACKGROUND of the RACECOURSE and RECREATION RESERVE

The Reserve (which comprises 54 ha of primly located crown land currently valued at $2bn) was created (by a Crown Grant in 1858 and formally enacted in 1875) to provide for three separate yet equal purposes of race course, public park and public recreation ground. Yet, as per the Auditor General’s (9/2014) findings, under the dysfunctional and archaic structure of the Trust, management of the reserve has focused on the racing purpose to the exclusion of the public park and recreation ground purposes.

In short, as per the AG’s report, the resulting inequitable imbalance in the reserves usage, facilities and accessibility is as follows

  • 11 ha (20%) is leased for racing uses for a peppercorn rental of $170,000 pa.
  • 37ha (69%) is used for racing purposes without any clear legal entitlement or payment. The majority of this area is located in the centre of the racecourse proper (a.k.a. the “Flats”) and is that area originally set aside for public usage.
  • 6ha (11%) that is “potentially” available for public park usage. The area is difficult to access and comprises limited facilities – both presenters agreed with this assessment.

 Since inception, the Trust’s management and Racing’s* dominance of the reserve has been a contentious issue, but never more so than in the last 18 years.   In 1997, the Victorian Racing Club, for financial reasons, decided to sell for development their state of the art training facility located on their freehold land in Mordialloc (a.k.a. the former Epsom Racecourse) and to focus training facilities at the Caulfield Racecourse (ie. choosing subsidised Crown Land rather than their own freehold land within Metro Melbourne or in a regional centre).

* While the Melbourne Racing Club (MRC) is the current public face of the Reserve, the public face has varied between various Racing entities over the years.   To simplify this posting, GERA uses the generic term of “Racing” to represent these entities.

 In the past 18 years, increased Racing dominance has resulted in a dramatic decline in the area/s available for public usage (via the encroachment of training facilities and commercial activities) and the public’s ability to access the public usage area/s (eg. 4 only access points, restricted daily hours of usage, inner fencing and training track barriers, public exclusion during non-racing related commercial activities) – thus the Auditor General’s description of the remaining 6 ha of public park being “potentially” available.    

Centre’s Public Use Areas – from Glen Eira’s 1998 and 2013 Open Space Strategy

CONSULTATION

 The second (16/9) consultation was not as controversial or “firey” as the first (9/9) consultation. Although, the consultations were promoted as being “to ascertain how the Reserve could be utilised by the public, what facilities could be incorporated into the Reserve for both passive and active recreation and to identify community demands and expectations of the Reserve”, during the context setting presentation of the first (9/9) consultation

  • various exclusions were applied (eg. all leased areas and all stabling and training facilities located within the reserve would remain as a “given”). These exclusions whittled the area of the Reserve open for discussion down to an area akin to the 6 ha referred to in the Auditor General’s report. Additionally, although presenting a map of the reserve, the presenters were unable to identify either the location or size of the public area to be discussed.
  • out of scope rulings were applied to a number of highly contentious issues that had major impacts on public accessibility (eg. no. and location of access points, times of use and removal of inner and perimeter fencing)
  • the limited extent of the consultation advertising was discussed. That advertising being restricted to a
    • notification on the recently revived Trustee website  and
    • mailout to Glen Eira sporting clubs, retirement villages and schools within a 3 km radius of the Reserve.
    • brief comments in the Glen Eira Leader

All in all, not a good start.   Those attending (approx. 35) the first consultation, quickly began seriously questioning the Trust’s ability to develop an “overall vision and rationale for the Masterplan”, when the starting point (for a unique site with huge potential for a wide area) was based on maintaining the status quo – a status quo that was the subject of a scathing Auditor General’s Report in 2014 and an equally critical 2008 Legislative Council Select Committee Report.

Basically, the attendees argued that

  • while acknowledging that this consultation represented a shift in the Trustee management philosophy, that shift was still accompanied by a philosophy that clearly considered the 2 public purposes as subordinate to the Racing purpose rather than as outweighing or being at least equal to the  racing purpose.
  • the Trust needed to take a much broader view that recognised the huge potential of this land and the opportunity it presents to a dramatically increasing population with an ever increasing need for parkland and open space.
    • first establish a future vision for the optimum 3 separate yet equal purposes
    • then establish both the time frame and steps required to move from the current untenable position to achieve the future vision.

 Encouragingly, although still unable to identify the size and location of the public area included in the SLMP, the context setting presentation for the second consultation (16/9) acknowledged a number of issues raised at first consultation (9/9). Hence, our earlier comment that the second consultation was less controversial than the first. These issues included

  • that development of the SLMP, would be a long, reiterative process and would involve the broader community, not just Glen Eira’s sporting clubs, retirement villages and schools located within 3 km of the Racecourse.
  • retention of all stabling and training facilities located on Reserve land was not a “given” and that initially, consideration would be given to “tweeking” the current training track configuration to increase the public park area.  Later consideration would be given to the removal of training and stabling facilities located on reserve land.
  • that public accessibility and fencing (inner and perimeter) issues would be included in the SLMP.

However, the positive nature of the above was subsequently dampened by Greg Sword’s outline of the deficiencies/dysfunctionalities inherent in the Trust’s structure and the severe impact these have on the Trust’s ability to effectively manage the Reserve.

  • There are 15 Trustees comprising
    • 6 Trustees representing the racing industry. These Trustees are senior executives of the Melbourne Racing Club (MRC) and in regular contact.
    • 6 Trustees appointed by the State Government, theoretically representing the broader community who may or may not be in regular contact with other trustees. GERA comment – as per the 2008 Select Committee Report these Trustees have a predominantly racing (vs. parkland management) background and know little of the public park purposes.
    • 3 Trustees representing the local community, appointed by the State Government. These trustees are Glen Eira Councillors (Crs. Lipshutz, Hyans and Esakoff) who may not be in regular contact with other trustees.
  • This structure makes it difficult for the Trust to pass any resolution that is not supported by the Melbourne Racing Club Trustees.
  • Therefore, it is unlikely that any SLMP that is “seen” to adversely impact Racing’s use of the Reserve (for racing, training or stabling or non-racing related commercial events) will the approved by the Trust.
  • Revenue received from MRC’s Reserve leases will provide the funding for works included in the Trust’s SLMP.   Even if the currently proposed, highly questionable, annual rental of $1 million, is approved, it will be some time before works will commence.
  • The Trustees have not met since prior to the publication of the Auditor General’s Report and are not scheduled to meet until November.   Trust approval to undertake this current round of consultations was obtained through email contact.
  • The Trust could not comment on Racing’s future plans for the Caulfield Racecourse and Recreation Reserve (Australian Financial Review, 11/9/2015)  as Racing had not submitted those plans to the Trust.

 While attendees (at both consultations) were left wondering why, one year after the Auditor General’s Report, the State Government has yet to address the Caulfield Racecourse and Recreation Reserve Trust issues, they nevertheless put forward their views on the public facilities required, in the hope that some improvement may eventuate.

Not in any particular order, these views were

  • Facilities to be provided must
    • have broad appeal, providing for all ages, all abilities, both genders and be family friendly.
    • provide for both active and passive park usage
    • have multiple and flexible use surfaces to provide for various sports
    • provide for both organised and informal sporting activities
  • Must be available for night/evening usage. Currently public usage is not permitted after dusk.
  • Ball Sports should be allowed. For example – football, soccer, cricket, hockey, baseball, tennis.
  • Flying of model areoplanes
  • The racecourse proper and training tracks should not be restricted from other uses, eg. joggers, athletics, school athletics.
  • Use of the centre as for commercial/corporate events or as a carpark is not supported.
  • Removal of inner and perimeter fencing.
  • Provision of farm and community gardens
  • Improved access (increased access points and existing access points improved)
  • Provide above ground pedestrian access through “new” Glen Eira Road parkland
  • Reserve’s public park and recreation area and usage to be actively promoted (rather than racecourse usage).

In addition, two further points were emphasised at both consultations

  • The impact of Glen Eira’s limited open space and sporting facilities has on all residents and in particular, the inability of the Glen Eira’s sporting clubs, located within 3 km of the Reserve, to meet membership demand.  So dire is their current need (not to mention the future need from the Caulfield Village, the Monash University expansion and the potential redevelopment of the MRC Freehold land along Kambrook and Booran Roads) for additional facilities that, initially, they were willing “bend” their match and training schedules to accommodate the 27 race meetings per annum and various commercial activities.
  • Do something now!!   With minimal effort and cost,
    • at least 2-3 sporting grounds can be accommodated within the current public usage area
    • improved public access and park promotion could be provided via the replacement of the solid perimeter fencing with open palisade fencing (with additional gates) along Glen Huntly Park and Queens Avenue.

Caulfield Racecourse Reserve – Opportunity for Change

For those of you not aware, the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve Trustees are preparing a “Strategic Land Management Plan for the racetrack and inner landscape portion of the Caulfield Racecourse” and are holding two community consultations which “will be an important part of “developing an overall vision and rationale for the Masterplan”

The notice appears on their recently revived website

Consultation details provided are

Glen Huntly Road Park Function Room (Corner Neerim and Booran Roads, Glen Huntly)

Wednesday 9th September 2015    7.00-9.00pm
Wednesday 16th September 2015  7.00-9.00pm

We urge residents to attend the community consultation sessions to express their views to the Trustees and to lodge written submissions with the Landscape Architects assisting the Trust’s development of the Strategic Land Management Plan.  Submissions should be lodged by Friday, 2nd October, 2015.  Download Trustee provided Submission lodgement details and sample questions

This is a unique opportunity that could bring about significant change.

The consultation arises from the September, 2015 Auditor General’s Performance Audit Report that was extremely critical of Trustee’s management of the reserve that had allowed racing to dominate the Reserve, exclude the public and become the public face of the Reserve. A reserve that was set aside by an 1858 Crown Grant, enacted in 1875, for three separate yet equal purposes, i.e. racecourse, public park and public recreation ground.

The end result of this mismanagement (both by the Trustees and State Government) is graphically and simply illustrated in the AG’s Report via an analysis of the usage areas with the Reserve.  Of the Reserve’s 54ha (valued at $2bn)

  • 11 hectares (20%) is under lease, from the Trust, for racing purposes (with Trust leasing income being at a “peppercorn rate” (ie. $170K pa) which is generally returned to the racing industry for racing related projects and
  • 37 hectares (69%) is used for racing purposes without any clear legal entitlement or payment arrangement*, and
  • only 6 hectares (11%) is available as open space for the potential use of the community.   Such a basic inequity in reserve usage is further exacerbated by the AG’s comments that the 6 ha comprises facilities, which although recently upgraded (in 2011 as a Ministerial condition of the ”Triangle Landswap”), that do not adequately meet the needs of community, are not easy to physically access and are subject to restricted usage times (not available on race or major event days, other days 9.45 a.m. to dusk).  On the other hand, such accessibility issues and time restrictions are not applicable to racing’s usage.

* In 1876, at the first Trustee’s meeting, the centre of the racecourse (also known as the “Flats”) was set aside for public usage. Within the context of the current racecourse, that area is estimated to be 25ha (since specific measurements are not publicly available, this “guesstimate” was provided by a surveyor) and comprises approximately half of the 37 ha (25ha – 6 ha = 19ha) used by racing without any legal entitlement or payment.   In terms of the “Flats” it has been consumed by training tracks (a clearly commercial activity, that is not essential to a racecourse) or in the case of 1.1 ha “Car Boot Village” which the 2011 landscaping plan identified as unrestricted public access area, has since been designated a restricted public access area.  While no rationale for re-designation is publicly available, a recent planning permit application noted that the “Car Boot Village” area has permits for future commercial activities.  These permits provide for the temporary installation of  private function facilities (ie. marquees, liquor service and toilet facilities) until 1 a.m.  365 days p.a. in the “Car Boot Village” area.

2011 Landscaping

Clearly, this inequitable distribution should be addressed, particularly in the light of the size of the land and it’s potential to meet the open space demands (especially for active sports) of the intensive developments in the surrounding area, ie.

  • Within Glen Eira (the least per capita open space in Metro Melbourne)
    • Caulfield Village Development – 2000+ dwellings
    • Monash University – currently 10,000 EFS (effective full-time students) to increase to 25,000 EFS and increased provision of student housing.
  • Within Stonnington (the second least per capita open space in Metro Melbourne)
    • 18 storey residential tower – Cnr. Tooronga and Dandenong Roads
    • 4-6 storey developments along Dandenong Road between Tooronga and Grange Roads

While GERA welcomes this initiative of the Trustees which, we have been advised will review usage of the entire (54 ha) reserve, we also have serious concerns re reports that racing is proposing night races which,

  • as per racing media reports will generate significant live broadcasting rights revenue from Asia and the Middle East but
  • does little for evening public park and recreation ground usage and also begs the question of why current public access to the reserve is not permitted after dusk whereas paid patrons are.

This is a unique opportunity that could bring about significant change and residents are urged to attend and views to the Trustees.

As, included in some of our previous posts, the following provides “food for thought”

In 1884, 9 years after the Restricted Crown Grant was formally enacted, a deputation from the Victorian Amateur Turf Club (VATC) was made to the Minister of Lands (Mr. Tucker) requesting Reserve management be transferred to the Club.

Mr. Tucker       “… to agree to the proposal of the club would be to limit to some extent the right of the public to use the ground for the purposes for which it was originally reserved – namely, for recreation and a public park. … The vicinity of the Caulfield Racecourse would no doubt soon be thickly populated, and the value of the reserve to the public would then be widely enhanced”.

 VATC                         “… permission might be granted to the public to go on the reserve”

 Mr. Tucker       “… thought the public ought not to have to ask for permission to go on a public reserve”.

Source: The Argus, 16/8/1884

**********************************************

 

EXTENDED LIQUOR LICENCE AND OUTDOOR CINEMA – CAULFIELD RACECOURSE RESERVE

UPDATE

PLANNING CONFERENCE – 5/2/2015

The following is a summary of the Planning Conference, chaired by Cr. Delahunty, for the Outdoor Cinema Planning Permit Application

  • The Extended Liquor Licence, attached as supporting documentation, is a copy of the MRC’s existing Liquor Licence.   The area for the Outdoor Cinema (Area 1 in the below posting) was stated (by the MRC representative) as being within MRC’s existing lease agreements, however, no statement was made on the leasing agreement status of the Car Boot Village Precinct (Area 2 in the below posting).
  • Council was requested to confirm that the Outdoor Cinema Area is within the existing lease agreements and that Trustee Approval for the Cinema has been obtained.
  • All facilities (ie screen, toilets, food and beverage services) associated with the Outdoor Cinema will be temporary in nature.
  • The permit closing time of 1 a.m. provides for cleaning and clearing of the Outdoor Cinema area to occur immediately after the departure of Cinema patrons.
  • Despite resident attendees raising the issues outlined in the below posting, immediately after formally closing the planning conference, Cr. Delahunty informally commented that the permit application would be granted for the full 365 days.

27/1/2015 – The DPC Hearing scheduled for this Thursday (29/1/2015) has been cancelled and is to be replaced with a more appropriate decision making process that involves Councillors and a Council Meeting decision. The  Hearing is to be replaced with a Planning Conference (5/2/2015 @ 6.30 p.m. – Glen Eira Town Hall, Caulfield Cup Room).  As per our previous advice – Council’s policy is to accept and consider all objections received up until the Committee Hearing or Planning Conference (now 5/2/2015), hence residents wishing to object can still do so.

22/1/015 – Delegated Planning Committee (DPC) Hearing to be held on 29/1/2015 at 1.30 p.m.    Council’s policy is to accept all objections received up until the Committee Hearing or Planning Conference, hence residents wishing to object can still do so.

*********************

Residents should be extremely concerned about the recent planning permit application signs placed around the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve (CRR) prior to the Christmas/New Year break. Despite the strong criticism, of both the Trustees’ management of the Reserve and the oversight of the Department of Environment and Primary Industry (DEPI), contained in the September, 2014 Auditor General’s Performance Audit of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve, it appears that the racing industry is seeking to expand its use of the reserve for commercial activities.

The Planning Permit Application (GE/PP-27172/2014) is for “Use of land for a Place of Assembly (Outdoor Cinema)”.

 

  • The Outdoor Cinema does not, as many may have assumed, use the recently approved “$4m Electronic Screen”  permanently located in front of the Grandstand (S). It is a separate mobile facility which will be located between the course proper and the Administration Building (Area 1).
  • Includes an application for an extended liquor license applicable to both the outdoor cinema (Area 1) and the Car Boot Village area within the centre of the Racecourse (Area 2).

As per the information outlined below, both the Outdoor Cinema and liquor license will/may operate 365 days per year until 1 a.m. and will involve permanent or temporary installation of service facilities.

 AUDITOR GENERAL PERFORMANCE AUDIT SUMMARY

  • The Caulfield Racecourse Reserve comprises some 54 hectares of Crown Land created by a Crown Grant in 1858 for three separate yet equal purposes – racecourse, public park (passive usage) and public recreation ground (active usage). Over the years, various subsequent Acts of Parliament have re-iterated and re-enforced these three purposes and their equality.
  • Management of the reserve in accordance with the above three purposes has been provided by a Board of Trustees comprising 6 representatives nominated by the DEPI, 6 representatives nominated by the MRC and 3 nominated incumbent Councillors. The DEPI is entrusted with overseeing the Trustees management of the reserve in accordance with the three separate yet equal purposes.
  • “Historically, the trust’s decisions have disproportionately favoured racing interests with insufficient attention paid to fulfilling the community-related purposes of the reserve.

Of the approximate 54 hectares of land at the reserve:

  • 11 hectares – approximately 20 per cent – is under lease to MRC—the grandstand, Neerim Road Stables and Western Stables
  • 37 hectares – approximately 69 per cent – is used by MRC without any clear legal entitlement or payment arrangement
  • the remaining 6 hectares – approximately 11 per cent – is open space for the potential use by the community during prescribed hours.

As a result, the amount of space available for the community is limited and does not equitably meet the community-related purposes in the Crown grant.”

 ie public park purpose is 67% vs. public access area of 11% (6 ha) whereas the racecourse purpose is 33% vs. racing usage area of 89% (48ha of which 11 ha is leased and 37 ha without apparent entitlement or  payment or publicly available justification)

 “Despite a reported $1.8 million upgrade to the centre of the reserve, public space within the reserve is limited, unwelcoming,  not easy to reach and the recreational facilities are limited.”

 PLANNING PERMIT APPLICATION DETAILS

Extended Liquor Licence ApplicationApplicant: Victorian Amateur Turf Club (VATC) for the “supply of liquor in the course of catering for events, social receptions or social functions in premises other than the licensed premises during trading hours”.

  • “Premises other than licensed premises” being the referenced lawn areas numbered above
    • Between the Racecourse proper and the Administration Building and the Black Caviar Pavilion (Area 1)
    • The Car Boot Village Area (Area 2 – estimated to be 1.1 ha) which although designated a public access area during the 2011 landscaping has, without any publicly available justification, since been designated a restricted area.
  • “Licensed Premises” being as per existing liquor license/s
    • Grandstand/Function Centre Complex – lease under review
    • Glasshouse Restaurant, Café, Bar and Tabaret – lease under review
    • Black Caviar Pavilion – no lease agreement                       
  • Temporary and/or permanent bar facilities will be located in both areas 1 & 2.
  • Trading Hours will be
    • Good Friday and Anzac Days – between 12 noon and 1 a.m.
    • On any other day – between 7 a.m. and 1 a.m.

Place of Assembly (Outdoor Cinema) ApplicationApplicant: Melbourne Racing Club (MRC)

  • Cinema use will be primarily between November – March with an option to extend this usage throughout the year. No indication is given of expected weekly or daily usage (eg. weekends only, 7 days per week).
  • Sessions will run from dusk to 1 a.m.
  • Expected average attendance is 500 patrons per session with car parking being provided via the Guineas Carpark (500 spaces) which is greater than the car parking requirements for Places of Assembly (0.3 car spaces per patron = 150 car parking spaces). Since the Guineas Car Park is also expected to provide parking for the patrons and visitors of the Caulfield Village Development, any overflow car parking requirements are to be serviced by the MRC’s numerous other car parks.
  • The 7m high x 11m long Movie Screen will be mobile (ie. located on flat bed truck)
  • Cinema activities will be fully contained between Racecourse Proper and the Administration Building (Area 1). Food and beverages will be available from the Black Caviar Pavilion and may also be brought in by patrons.
  • Toilet and other facilities are available nearby on the course and will prominently signed.
  • A localised audio system will be used within EPA guidelines.
  • Lighting of the area will be necessary for safety requirements, however, the screen will be the primary light source.

 Justification for the Cinema Proposal – Prepared by Beveridge Williams on behalf of the MRC.

  • “The proposed use offers a unique entertainment experience in proximity to complementary enterprises such as dining and food outlets within the Phoenix Precinct Area
  • “Access to parking at the Racecourse is available with minimal impact to the Community”
  • “The proposed outdoor cinema makes use of an entertainment facility that would otherwise lie idle during the proposed hours of operation”
  • The proposed outdoor cinema is to be located in the northern part of the Racecourse. This location has been chosen for various reasons including
    • Proximity to the Guineas Car Park
    • Ability to locate the screen in an optimal viewing area
    • Ability to locate temporary food selling facilities nearby
    • View of the racecourse afforded to visitors.
  • The MRC has received the approval of the public land manager of the Reserve.

GERA’s CONCERNS

  • The statement that the public land manager has approved the proposed outdoor cinema is not supported by documentation attached to the application.TheDEPI letter, dated 1/9/2014, rather than giving approval, outlines the conditions required for approval. These conditions being
    • A lease agreement being in place
    • That the outdoor cinema is within the lease area
    • That the approval of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve Trust (CRRT) has been obtained.

No documentation re a lease agreement or approval of the CRRT has been provided.

  • Details of the application for the Extended Liquor License are presented “in support” of the Outdoor Cinema application yet is not specifically mentioned in that application. Surely, it should be part of the application and be supported by explicit approvals of the DEPI and Trustees. No documentation re a lease agreement or CRRT approval has been provided.
  • Provision of Car Parking – It is proposed that cinema (and presumably Car Boot Village Functions) car parking will be provided by the Guineas Car Park (500 spaces) which exceeds the specified requirement of 3 car spaces per patron = 150 car parking spaces. The report mentions the Guineas Car Park will also be used by Caulfield Village residents, visitors and patrons. However, it does not mention that the Guineas Car Park will also be used for events held in the Grandstand/Function Complex and the Car Boot Village Area and by Glass House Tabaret patrons. No analysis of car parking demand has been presented in support of the comments that any overflow car parking requirements are to be serviced by the MRC’s numerous other car parks” and that there will be “minimal impact to the Community”.
  • The comment that “The proposed outdoor cinema makes use of an entertainment facility that would otherwise lie idle during the proposed hours of operation” does not address the issue of inequitable parkland usage. Unlike other public parks, public access to both the Outdoor Cinema area and the Car Boot Village areas are currently permitted between 9.45 a.m. and dusk – ergo those facilities are idle because the public is denied access. It also begs the question of why public park usage is not permitted between 7.00 a.m. and 1 a.m. yet commercial activities, accompanied by liquor service, is permitted.
  • Insufficient information provided on the installation of “temporary and/or permanent facilities” bar service facilities to be located within Outdoor Cinema and the Car Boot Village area.   No other information is provided and without additional information it is impossible to make an assessment – any decision made will provide full discretionary authority or a carte blanche to the MRC and VATC which will be extremely difficult to modify.

Given our above comments on the application itself, GERA believes that the application as presented should not be approved as

  • the application (Outdoor Cinema and Liquor License) disproportionately favours racing usage of the reserve (for commercial activities) at the expense of the public park usage.
  • does not include appropriate land manager approvals
  • lacks details on what is being requested and
  • does not provide adequate assessments on parking issues or amenity impacts (park users, current and future residents)

In addition when viewed in the context of the

  • Unresolved issues on the CRRT management of the Reserve raised by the Auditor General
  • The current unresolved leasing issues between the MRC and the Trustees
  • The newly elected governments decision to review the management structure of the reserve

GERA believes it is inappropriate for Council to make a decision on the application and the application should be held in abeyance until formal unconditional approval is provided by the DEPI and CRRT.

MANAGEMENT OF THE CAULFIELD RACECOURSE RESERVE – Auditor General Report

Once again our apologies – a technical issue prevents GERA presenting the previously promised update on the Auditor General’s Report which was extremely critical of both the management of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve by the Trustees of the Reserve and of the Department of the Environment and Primary Industry (charged with overseeing the Trustees management of the Reserve for the three separate yet equal purposes of racecourse, public park and public recreation ground)

We will publish the update as soon as this technical issue is resolved.

AUDITOR GENERAL’S PERFORMANCE AUDIT OF THE TRUSTEES MANAGEMENT OF THE CAULFIELD RACECOURSE RESERVE.

The Auditor General’s above Report was tabled in Parliament this morning.  In preparing the report, the Auditor General invited community groups and individuals to make submissions to the Audit.  GERA was one of those community groups. While GERA has not had time to fully digest the content of the Auditor General’s Report, for the time being it is sufficient to say that GERA agrees with the Report’s summary findings.   Same starting point, different paths taken ( determined by the AG’s direct access to Trustee and DEPI information vs. residents reliance on secondary or third hand information) yielded the same conclusion.

Subsequent GERA postings will contain comments on the details of the report.

For GERA, the big question now is, will the politicians do anything the tools are available, is the will?

BACKGROUND

The Caulfield Racecourse Reserve was created by a Crown Grant in August, 1958 “to provide a site for a Race Course Public Recreation Ground and Public Park at Caulfield” and management of the reserve, in accordance with these 3 separate yet equal purposes, was vested in a Board of Trustees.

“Fifteen trustees are appointed by the Governor in Council to manage the reserve—six each representing government and the Melbourne Racing Club and three representing Glen Eira City Council. The Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) has a role in overseeing the performance of Crown land managers”.

Both historically and currently, residents have long argued that

  • Trustees have focused on the racing purpose, to the exclusion and detriment of the public recreation and public park purposes, and
  • The Victorian Government representatives appointed as Trustees, and the overseeing Government Departments, have also focused on racing purpose to the exclusion of the other two purposes.

AUDITOR GENERAL’S FINDINGS

“The audit concluded that the trustees have not been effective in their overall management of the reserve. There is an absence of governance arrangements and management tools to effectively guide the management of the reserve, and the trustees have not established a strategic plan for land use and development of the reserve. Consequently, conflicts of interest have not been adequately managed and preference has been afforded to racing interests with insufficient attention given to use of the reserve for recreational pursuits and as a public park.

DEPI has not effectively overseen the management of the reserve by the trustees and has not intervened in significant issues that adversely affect the trustees’ management of the reserve. There is no framework established for trustees to report to DEPI, and in turn to the Minister for the Environment and Climate Change, and therefore there is a lack of accountability over the trust’s performance.”

GERA’s AUDIT SUBMISSIONS

GERA made two submissions

• A Preliminary Submission, specifically requested by the Auditor General, on the public access points to the reserve, and
• A Final Submission (which included supporting documentation in a separate Appendices)

For those interested in reading our submissions, we advise that even allowing for the inclusion of photographs they make for hefty reading.

Our thanks to the many who contributed to GERA’s submission – your significant contribution is greatly appreciated and hopefully will result in a significant change to the Reserve’s management.

Errata

The following sentence has be added to our original posting to aid clarification:.

“Same starting point, different paths taken (determined by the AG’s direct access to Trustee and DEPI information vs. residents reliance on secondary or third hand information) yielded the same conclusion.”

Apologies for any inconvenience caused.

 

ELECTRONIC SCREEN ON PUBLIC PARK AND RECREATION GROUNDS

ELECTRONIC SCREEN UPDATE – 26/5/2014

 View of the screen from the Centre of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve picnic facilities.

Last Tuesday’s Council Meeting (20/5/2014) granted approval for the erection of an enormous electronic screen on the Caulfield Racecourse (see below posting). The permanent screen will be located, in front of the grandstand, on  Crown Land that is designated as a public park and recreation area. The screen will be used for live racing feeds on race days (27 pa) and sponsorship promotions during both racing and non-racing events.

Much of the discussion, leading up to the formal vote for screen approval, related to the benefits derived by MRC and race patrons (ie. additional income stream, attractive to grandstand users) rather than the adverse visual impact on the parkland and parkland users.  However, the “major” argument presented for approving the screen was that such approval would remove the MRC’s ability to argue against the future provision of sporting facilities on the Racecourse Centre’s public parkland.

While GERA has reservations re the adoption of this approach, GERA sincerely hopes that approval to permanently erect a screen of this magnitude results in increased sporting facilities in the centre of the racecourse in the near future.

*******************

INITIAL ELECTRONIC SCREEN POSTING – 19/5/2014

At tomorrow’s Council Meeting, Council will vote on the Melbourne Racing Clubs planning permit application for the permanent installation of a huge electronic screen on Crown Land in an area designated for public parkland and public recreation usage.

Leader Article 22 4 2014

As reported in the Leader – 22/04/2014 the screen will

  • “rival the largest racetrack screens in the southern hemisphere
  • at 13.11m, would be about the height of a four-storey building
  • be 42.3m wide – larger than a basketball court and 8m shy of an Olympic sized swimming pool”
  • have a screen area of 427.6 sqm – larger that the designated minimum lot size for large lot subdivisions in the Neighbourhood Residential Zone. (GERA’s additional comment).

Viewed from the centre of the racecourse picnic area, the visual impact of the screen will be

BEFORE

AFTER

Please note the above picture superimposes the screen diagram (as per documentation presented by the MRC) on the above “before” photo.  Screen positioning is aligned with the pitch of the access tunnel entrance roof.

In support of the planning permit application the MRC comments that

  • within the context of the existing racecourse built forms (eg. grandstands, entrance structures) and the proposed plantings immediately behind the screen, the screen “will not have a detrimental impact on the visual amenity of the area … and]…will have no material impact on the park or it’s users”
  • “the loss of the view of the grandstands has no relevance as the grandstand is not a protected building”
  • “will significantly add to the functionality and entertainment value offered to the race going public’’ by displaying live video feeds, race replays, race day and sponsor information.
  • although the Leader Article referenced reports an MRC representative as saying the screen “would not be used for advertising”, at the Council held Planning Conference (25/4/2014) the attending MRC representative said it would also be used to promote sponsors during other events held at the racecourse.
  • that the screen dimensions are in line with similar screens installed in other Australian racecourses.
  • the permanent screen would replace the temporary** screen currently being used and is approximately 5 times the size of that screen. (Readers should note that current screen, previously referred to as a portable screen, is on a trailer structure that is in place during race days and stored on non-racing days)

GERA believes that this electronic screen planning permit application should not be granted and that an amended scaled down permit application, that is more appropriate to the reserve’s parkland usage, should be submitted.  GERA considers that

  • the screen is to be permanently located on crown land in an area designated for use as a public park and public recreation.
  • the screen’s proposed dimensions have a detrimental impact on the visual amenity of the park and it’s users.  This loss of visual amenity is not mitigated by surrounding built forms or proposed plantings.
  • the predicted limited usage of the screen (ie 27 racing afternoons per year and 10 non racing event days per year) is not sufficient to justify this permanent and prominent intrusion (365 days per year) on parkland.
  • it is inappropriate to permanently locate signage, which will also be used to promote MRC sponsors’s products and services, on publicly owned parkland.
  • that the argument that the screen’s size is consistent with those installed at other Australian racecourses does not recognise the designated  parkland and recreation usage that applies to the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve.  The screens referenced in the permit application are located on either crown land designated for racecourse purposes only or on free-hold racing club owned land.
  • it is not in accordance with Council’s March, 2013, Position Statement on the Crown Land known as the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve. (Council Minutes March, 2014 – item 9.10)

Since the Officers Report ( Council Meeting Agenda – 20/5/2014 – Item 9.4) recommends approval of the huge electronic screen, GERA encourages our members and readers to contact Councillors to express their views.  Councillor Contact Details

_______________________

Footnotes

*A  large lot is defined as being a property lot greater than 2000 sqm.

** The current temporary/portable screen

Portable Screen