Tag Archives: Caulfield Racecourse

ACTION AT LAST – OPENING UP THE CAULFIELD RACECOURSE

Four years on from the Auditor General’s report we finally see some real action on the opening up of the Caulfield Racecourse.

Within 5 years,  training facilities (tracks and stabling), located on the Reserve’s Crown Land, will be removed and the huge centre of the reserve opened up for public recreation and park usage.

As always information is scant and there are loads of major questions re what this actually means for public usage (staged implementation, development and funding of facilities) vs. those areas of Reserve to be leased for 65 years ( leasing arrangements ie areas, lease fees, terms and conditions).

A huge break, though how huge remains to be seen.  Unfortunately there are many public $’s being directed to Racing, rather than public usage, and another 65 years (up from 21 years) before any “next” break through.

MEDIA RELEASE  

Monday, 22 October 2018

INVESTING IN WORLD-CLASS RACING FACILITIES

The Andrews Labor Government is building new infrastructure and creating hundreds of new jobs at the Cranbourne Training Complex and Pakenham Racing Clubs as part of a major boost for racing in Victoria.

Minister for Racing Martin Pakula today announced a $17.5 million investment to create new facilities at both the Cranbourne Training Complex and Pakenham Racing Club as part of a $40.1 million joint funding package.

Thoroughbred training at the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve will be relocated over the next five years, to open up the reserve for greater public access and recreational use.

The Labor Government will invest more than $6 million at the Cranbourne Training Complex for the construction of additional stabling, an inside grass track, an equine pool and tunnel upgrades to accommodate additional horses.

More than $8 million will also go to the Pakenham Racing club for new stabling, new uphill grass and synthetic tracks and an additional equine pool. The project will accommodate an additional 600 horse boxes and create up to 200 new jobs during construction, with a total economic impact estimated to be more than $250 million.

Racing Victoria and the Melbourne Racing Club will contribute $22.6 million towards the project. Works at both facilities will begin immediately, to help relocations which may begin from mid-2020. Trainers will have up to five years to relocate from their existing facilities at Caulfield Racecourse Reserve.

The Government has approved a long-term lease between Caulfield Racecourse Reserve Trust and the Melbourne Racing Club to increase recreational opportunities and secure horse racing at the reserve for another 65 years.

As part of this, the Government will provide an additional $1 million to support the Trust to develop a long-term land use plan for the site, to open up the space and balance the needs of residents, racing stakeholders and community groups.

The Trust will develop a three year corporate plan that will set out the strategic direction and management of the reserve in close consultation with the local community.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Racing Martin Pakula

“We’re investing in world-class facilities for the future at the Cranbourne Training Complex and Pakenham Racing Club to ensure that Victoria remains the premier racing state.”

“These new facilities will create hundreds of new jobs, provide a major economic boost for the racing industry and help ensure thoroughbred racing in Victoria keeps pace with international standards.”  

Quote attributable to Minister for Environment Lily D’Ambrosio

“Through our legislation and the new long-term lease, we’re delivering on our commitment to establish a strong future for a more accessible Caulfield Racecourse Reserve.”

 Quote attributable to Member for Cranbourne Jude Perera

“Thoroughbred racing is a vital part of our community and this major investment will provide local jobs and ensure these facilities remain world class for years to come.”

 

 

 

MEET THE NEW TRUSTEES OF THE CAULFIELD RACECOURSE RESERVE

This posting serves as a reminder to those who were notified of the below Information Session and to extend the invitation to attend to others interested redressing Glen Eira and Stonnington’s chronic shortage of parkland and sporting facilities.

 

 BACKGROUND

As per the 2014 Auditor General’s Report, due to poor management of Reserve (the former Trust) and lack of oversight (by successive State Governments) has enabled its racing purpose to dominate the Reserve’s 54 hectares to the detriment of its public park and recreation purposes.

Current usage arrangements, have not changed from those outlined in the 2014 Report* and while the wheels of Government have moved slowly they have moved.  In September 2017, on the recommendation of a bipartisan working group legislation was introduced to

  • abolish the previous trust ( a Restrictive Trust) and establish a new trust framework, and
  • establish a transparent and modern governance model for the Reserve management.

 While it’s still “early days”,  the Information Session is the first step in a long process that gives the community an unprecedented opportunity for input into ensuring future Reserve usage recognizes and serves the needs of the community.

 INVITATION

The newly appointed (1st August, 2018) Trustees of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve have committed to holding three to four community information sessions a year plus an annual public meeting to engage and be transparent with the community about the management of the reserve.

Below is an invitation to the first community information session to be held on 4 October 2018 at the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve.

The meeting will discuss the priorities the Trust has set for the next twelve months; including appointing a Chief Executive Officer and developing a land management plan, so come along meet the new trustees and ask questions.

Register your attendance via the link at the bottom of the above invitation and please circulate amongst your community.

Please note:   An alternate registration link is   Community Information Session: Caulfield Racecourse Reserve.

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Footnote:

 As per the 2014 AG’s report (which remains unchanged) usage of the Reserve’s 54 ha (valued in 2014 as $2bn) is

  • 11 hectares (20%) is under lease for racing purposes.  The Annual rental of $170K is generally returned to the MRC for racing related projects.
  • 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. That 6 ha comprises facilities that do not meet the needs of community, are not easy to physically access and are subject to restricted usage times.  No similar accessibility issues and time restrictions are applicable to racing usage.

Caulfield Station Precinct* Structure Planning – Community Workshop

“The Victorian Planning Authority is leading the preparation of a structure plan for the Caulfield Station Precinct, in partnership with Glen Eira City Council, Stonnington City Council, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and Transport for Victoria (TfV).

 You are invited to share your thoughts and ideas about how to best shape the future of this place for the community by attending a Community Visioning Workshop.

The purpose of this workshop is to inform the community of the planning process and to seek views and input into the future of the area.

 Registrations are essential.   Light refreshments will be provided.”

Date: Wednesday 20 June 2018
Time: 6.30 – 9.00pm
Location: Monash University Caulfield, Ground Floor, Building H, Room H116 (Caulfield Campus Map)

GERA strongly urges both Glen Eira and Stonnington residents and recreational/sporting groups and clubs to attend this workshop  to get an understanding of what is being proposed and an awareness of it’s potential “flow on” impacts for surrounding areas.

We also encourage completing the VPA online survey.   

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This the first opportunity for the community input into the development of Structure Plans for the 122 ha Caulfield Station Precinct* and its surrounding areas since the VPA was appointed to lead the planning exercise in August, 2017.  At that time the VPA advised that

“Several key activities attract workers, residents and visitors to the area including Monash University’s Caulfield campus, Caulfield Racecourse, Glen Eira College, retail outlets, parks and recreational areas. The structure plan will promote transit-orientated development and identify opportunities for growth in employment, education, housing and associated activities. We will also work with the Melbourne Racing Club and our government partners to seek to unlock future shared recreational use of racecourse land.”

The initial information and input session focuses on the four core activity centre components and their connectivity within the precinct. The significant planning and development implications for Glen Eira (south of Dandenong Road) and Stonnington’s (north of Dandenong Road) surrounding commercial/residential areas and proximate activity centres are to be included in subsequent consultations.   Recent multi storey multi unit developments, along the northern side of Dandenong Road, indicate the development potential of the areas surrounding the precinct.

Briefly, the four core components of the Caulfield Station Precinct are

Caulfield Village

A major residential, retail and commercial development located between the Racecourse and the Rail Line. Currently under construction, it comprises

Worth noting is the redevelopment potential (multi-storey multi units) of MRC freehold land located along Kambrook/Booran Roads (shown on the above map as Horse Training and Stabling).  This potential was flagged during the Strategic Land Management consultations conducted by the former Reserve Trustees in 2015.  The current status of redevelopment plans is not known.

Monash University – Caulfield Campus

Unfortunately, 10 months into the Structure Planning  process,  little is known of the current redevelopment plans.  As an indicative guide, some years ago redevelopment included

  • an expansion from 10,000 Effective Fulltime Students (EFS) to 25,000 EFS.
  • Construction of a series of high rise buildings to provide educational and administrative facilities with some retail facilities at ground level.
  • Off campus multi storey student accommodation in close proximity to the Caulfield Campus

Caulfield Racecourse and Recreation Reserve

The Racecourse comprises 54 ha, of the 122 ha now designated the  Caulfield Station Precinct, and offers a significant open space opportunity for Glen Eira (which has the least per capita open space/parkland in Metro Melbourne, coming in at less than half the Metro average) and Stonnington (which has the 2nd least).  Both the size and location of this crown land make it suitable to service the recreational (passive and active) needs of the volumes (ie. residents, students, workers and patrons) expected to access the Precinct, as well as the needs of the increasing residents of the surrounding areas.   Striking an equitable balance between public recreational usage and racing usage has long been a contentious issue and recently resulted in changes to management of the land that have yet to come into effect.

Caulfield Station

While GERA is not aware of plans to redevelop the heritage listed Caulfield Station, we believe its redevelopment (presumably as a rail/tram/bus interchange) will be required to service the public transport needs of those accessing the Precinct.   When/if redevelopment occurs, it should include the “place making” historic Station and heritage listed buildings in Derby Road.

Connectivity of Core Components

Currently, the connectivity of the above core components is poor.  It is restricted by the extremely divisive railway line and a fragmented road network.   While access between Caulfield Village, the Racecourse and the Station is basically “across the street”,  accessing Monash from these locations is restricted to 3 underpasses ie. Queen Avenue, Caulfield Station and Station Street.    Free movement flows (predominantly pedestrian, with some vehicular movement for the provision of goods and services) within the Precinct is essential to enable synergetic development of precinct facilities (eg. auditoriums, open space and car parking)  and ensure the long term viability of a cohesive activity centre.

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Footnote:

*Caulfield Station Precinct – is the previous Priority Development Zone, known as the Phoenix Precinct (ie. Caulfield Village and Monash University Caulfield Campus) expanded to include the Caulfield Racecourse & Recreation Reserve, Glen Eira College and Glen Huntly Park.

 

CAULFIELD RACECOURSE REQUIEM

The Victorian Parliament is currently debating the “Caulfield Racecourse Reserve Bill”  that arises from the scathing 2014 Auditor General’s Report into the “Management and Oversight of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve”.    It’s taken 3 years to get to this point and it’s our assessment that the Bill misses the point.

Since the Auditor General’s Report much has be promised, yet it is hard to relate those promises with the content of this Bill.  Rather than addressing the inequity between the Reserve’s three separate yet equal purposes of “racecourse public recreation ground and public park” by aligning Racecourse and Community usages with those purposes, we argue that the Bills provisions favour racing rather than public interests and fall short of  addressing the issues raised in the Auditor General’s Report.   For example,

  • the purposes have been redefined to align more closely with existing inequitable uses and the Minister is given the authority to assign/vary the weightings assigned to the purposes.
  • Ministerial appointment of Trustees, without adequately defining selection criteria.  Appointment is for a period of 3 years with re-appointment for an indefinite number of terms is permitted.
  • Ministerial determination of lease periods of up to 65 years.  This is contrary to past practices and inconsistent with commercial practices and the Reserve’s defined purposes
  • Inadequate management and financial reporting requirements (both Parliamentary and Public) which are not in line with contemporary practices.  Likewise with Conflict of Interest provisions.
  • Provides for a 20 year Strategic Land Management Plan that lacks performance reporting requirements and can be amended without public scrutiny.
  • Ministerial determination of allowed activities – “detrimental” is a key determinant, however, detrimental is not defined.

The inadequacies of the Bill, combined with the Government’s  planned dramatic increases in commercial, residential and educational activities in an area widely known to be lacking in parkland and sporting facilities, has prompted both the Stonnington and Glen Eira residents groups to jointly conduct this event.

As per the Auditor General’s report, the Caulfield Racecourse and Recreation Reserve, has three separate yet equal purposes – racecourse, public recreation ground and public park.  As a result of poor performance by the Trust (in managing the reserve) and successive State Governments (in overseeing Reserve Management) Racing has been permitted to dominate the Reserve to the extent that current usage of the reserve’s 54ha (valued at $2bn+) is allocated as

  • 11 hectares (20%) is under lease for racing purposes.  The Annual rental of $170K is generally returned to the MRC for racing related projects.
  • 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.   That 6 ha comprises facilities that do not meet the needs of community, are not easy to physically access and are subject to restricted usage times.  No accessibility issues and time restrictions are applicable to racing usage.

JOIN US IN REMINDING OUR POLITICIANS OF THE FORESIGHT OF OUR FOREFATHERS.  

In 1884, 8 years after the management of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve was vested in a Board of Trustees, the Victorian Amateur Turf Club (VATC) sought sole management of the Reserve.  The response from the then Minister for Lands was:

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

THAT TIME HAS ARRIVED.  

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The “Requiem” will be held in the Centre of the Racecourse.   The Centre may be accessed by the

  • Glen Eira Road Tunnel – vehicle and pedestrian access
  • Guineas Tunnel, Neerim Road and Queens Avenue Gates.

 

 

 

Community Gardens in Glen Eira

community-gardens-2

A perennial issue in Glen Eira is residents desire for community gardens (particularly in or near the Growth Zones) and Council’s reluctance to support community gardens.  

Sure, without some organizational structure and Council support they can be difficult to establish and maintain on a long term basis. However, as has been shown in other inner and middle ring metro Melbourne municipalities, enthusiastic volunteers, guidance from various associations and Council support have created some very successful and creative community gardens, that have had a significant community impact. Checkout – 5 of the best Community Gardens in Melbourne, Melbourne community garden and Maribyrnong City Council – Community Gardens

GERA supports establishing community gardens in Glen Eira and also Glen Eira’s growing number of  “grass roots” community garden advocates.

As per the below article (to appear in this weeks Leader), GERA proposes the inclusion of community gardens in our campaign for the “opening up” of the Racecourse Centre Parkland.  In our view it’s an ideal location – easily accessible from the high density development occurring in Glen Eira and Stonnington and smack dab in the middle of an area known for an abundance of cheap fertilizer, ie. horse manure.

2016-02-14-leader-article

Come along tomorrow evening (15/02/2017) and check it out.   Details are in our previous posting

Caulfield Racecourse Reserve – Community Gathering 15/02/2017

2017-02-gathering-flyer-p10001

For those who don’t know in 1858 a Crown Grant established the Caulfield Racecourse and Recreation Reserve with 3 separate yet equal purposes – racecourse, public recreation ground and public park (Caveat on Title).  Yet over the past 20  years lack of oversight and mismanagement (State Government and Board of Trustees) has allowed racing and racing’s commercial activities to dominate the reserve to the exclusion of the public park purposes.

racecourse-2

The scathing September, 2014 Auditor General Report into the management of the reserve graphically identified the current  imbalance in usage of the Reserves 54 ha (valued at $2bn), that has resulted from that lack of oversight and mismanagement, as being

  • 11 hectares (20%), is leased by the Melbourne Racing Club (MRC) for a flat rate of approx. $170,000 p.a.
  • 37 hectares (69%) is used by MRC without any clear legal entitlement or payment arrangement.  (GERA comment – to put this 37 hectares in perspective, it is roughly the equivalent to the combined size of Glen Eira’s two premier parks – Caulfield Park (24.9ha) and Princes Park (12.4ha.)
  • 6 hectares (11%) is open space for potential use by the community on restricted days at restricted times. Use of the racecourse parkland by the public is not actively promoted nor visible from the surrounding streets.  It is also difficult to physically access and comprises limited facilities that don’t meet park users’ needs.

It is now almost 2.5 years  since the AG’s Report and, although “opening up” the Reserve for public use by the surrounding communities of Glen Eira and Stonnington would be significant*, only scant information is available on progress and little has been achieved at “ground zero”.  Therefore, GERA, in conjunction with the Malvern East Group (a.k.a. Stonnington residents group), invites you to a Community Gathering at Caulfield Racecourse between 6.00 & 8.00 pm on Wednesday, 15th February, 2015.

The purpose of this event is twofold

  • To increase community usage of the our parkland by
    • Increasing community awareness of the 2 public park purposes of this Reserve and
    • Providing an opportunity for the community to visit the park and experience it’s magnitude and beauty.
  • To provide local residents with an opportunity to join the campaign seeking increased State Government actions, that are geared to
    • redressing the imbalance in racing vs. public usage of this public land, and
    • ensuring compliance with the Auditor General’s recommendation for open and transparent management this public land.

We hope you will be able to attend.

Public Parkland Access Point Details & Opening Hours

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*Significance of “Opening Up” the Reserve

  • Glen Eira has the least per capita open space in Metro Melbourne, Stonnington the second least
  • Caulfield Racecourse is located
    • just south of Dandenong Road which is the boundary between the two municipalities.
    • Residents in both Municipalities experience adverse amenity impacts (traffic, parking and noise) from racing and racing commercial events.
    • In both Municipalities, the residential areas surrounding this small stretch of Dandendong Road are targeted for, and are currently experiencing, high density growth.

Caulfield Racecourse trustees face sack in community push for more open space

Just published in The Age  – after 140 years, and almost two years after the scathing Auditor General’s Report (17/9/2014) on the Management Performance of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve Trust, it looks like the State Government is taking the first step in ensuring this Crown Land (valued at $2bn) is governed in accordance with it’s 3 specific purposes of racecourse, public park and public recreation ground.

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The AGE article –  Farrah Tomazin – August 20 2016 – 4:18PM

A powerful board that manages the Caulfield Racecourse faces being sacked after years of “unworkable” governance, paving the way for one of Melbourne’s best kept secrets to be opened up for greater public use.

In a move likely to be welcomed by residents, the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve – the equivalent of about 15 MCGs worth of open space – could soon be utilised for more recreation, local sport and much-needed parkland in the heart of inner-city suburbia.

Racecourse Centre

An aerial view of Caulfield Racetrack. Photo: Google Earth

The reserve is home to premier racing events such as the Caulfield Cup and the Blue Diamond Stakes, but the land was put aside a century ago for broader community use, not just the city’s sporting elite.

However, most Melburnians would not know they can simply walk in and use the space, largely because the governing board – made up by a secretive group of trustees heavily influenced by the powerful Melbourne Racing Club – has made the site look unwelcoming and managed the area for years to serve its own interests: predominantly training and racing.

A bipartisan panel set up by the Andrews government earlier this year has now branded the trustee structure “unworkable” and “anachronistic”, and called for a new independent body to manage the reserve.

The panel’s report, seen by The Sunday Age, suggests the government could first request the resignations of the trustees, whose 15 members comprise six MRC nominees (including chair Mike Symons and vice-chair Peter Le Grand); six government nominees (including former ALP national president Greg Sword and federal court judge Shane Marshall) and three from the Glen Eira Council.

If the trustees don’t stand down legislation would be introduced giving the minister the power to dissolve the group and set up a new, clearer governance structure based on bodies such the Melbourne and Olympic Parks Trust or the MCG Trust. In the meantime, the department of environment would be appointed the interim land manager.

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said she was considering her options and would respond shortly.

“This historic issue has been languishing for far too long and requires decisive action,” she said. “We must ensure there is a balance between the needs of the racing community and local residents.”

A key problem with the governance of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve is the trust is the landlord and the Melbourne Racing Club its tenant – yet six of the 15 trustees also happen to be MRC appointments.

The composition of the group has therefore resulted in perceived and real conflicts of interest, a lack of accountability, and unresolved disputes between trustees on everything from the lease arrangements to how the area should best be used.

The City of Glen Eira has the least public space of any municipality, and councillors have previously pointed out there were about 400 children unable to play sport in the area last winter because they simply didn’t have the room.

Liberal Caulfield MP David Southwick – part of the working group, along with Labor Oakleigh MP Steve Dimopoulos and independent chair Ken Ryan – told Fairfax Media: “The Andrews government must act immediately and implement the working group’s report and sack the Caulfield Racecourse Trust to restore appropriate governance and to unlock this prime open space for the community.”

Mr Dimopoulos said it was crucial the MRC deliver on a plan to remove training from the site within five years, to allow sports grounds to be established around the reserve.

The skewed way in which the reserve has been managed was highlighted in a 2014 Auditor-General’s report, which found 37 out of the reserve’s 54 hectares were being used by the MRC for racing and training “without clear legal entitlement or transparent arrangements in place that recognise the financial benefit to the club”.

A further 11 hectares were leased to the MRC. But only six hectares were identified as space the public could use – if they managed to navigate their way past the poor signage and unwelcoming access points.

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.

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

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GERA original posting – 28/5/2016 below

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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

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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

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