Racecourses seek development bonanza

MELBOURNE'S big racetracks are turning to residential developments to shore up their financial viability, with major new building projects planned for the home of the Cox Plate and the Caulfield Cup.

MELBOURNE'S big racetracks are turning to residential developments to shore up their financial viability, with major new building projects planned for the home of the Cox Plate and the Caulfield Cup.

Sections of Moonee Valley Racecourse could be transformed into a retirement village to help fund the operation of the racecourse, while Planning Minister Justin Madden is considering a major residential and commercial development for Caulfield Racecourse that would include 1200 new residential units and 20,000 square metres of office space.

Racecourse officials deny the developments signal the beginning of the end for the vast urban racecourses, and instead say the developments will secure the long-term financial viability of the racetracks.

Moonee Valley residents have been letter-boxed on the proposed planning amendment that would allow a retirement village in any part of the 39-hectare site - and have until Monday to respond to the proposal.

The public affairs manager of the Moonee Valley Racing Club, Jo McKinnon, said the retirement village was about making the best use of available land.

"We do know that as most clubs around Australia are doing or have done, we are looking at ways to better use our land and we have determined that obviously there is a community need for a retirement-style facility in this area," she said.

"It's planned most likely for the north-west corner of our site. It will certainly not affect racing which is our core business."

Moonee Valley Mayor Paul Giuliano said that even if the planning scheme amendment was approved for the Moonee Valley Racecourse, further council approval would be required for the retirement village.

Simon Gardner, general manager of commercial operations with the Melbourne Racing Club at the Caulfield course, said they were proposing to develop 1200 residential units (including a 50-plus lifestyle village and residential towers), 20,000 square metres of office space and 15,000 square metres of retail space.

The development would be on racecourse parking land between Station Street and Normanby Road, north of the track and, as a high-density residential development adjacent to a railway station, would fit neatly with the State Government's planning blueprint Melbourne 2030.

"The proposed Caulfield Village development will be a thriving centre to live, work, shop and relax within a sustainable environment, serviced by trains, trams and buses," Mr Gardner said.

He said the $750 million development was "fundamental to the long-term success" of the Melbourne Racing Club, noting that better use of their land was now a priority for many clubs.

"If you have got freehold land and it is available, traditionally racing clubs have used it for very expensive car parking and not a lot else, 20 times a year or so," he said. "The reality is an asset needs to return."

Paul Burke, of Glen Eira Council, said the plans included the use of some Crown land, although the land in question mainly belonged to the MRC.

"According to documents submitted by the MRC, part of the proposal would be up to 15 storeys high," he said in a written statement. "The development would include over 1000 residential units. It is not clear how many of them would be dwellings or hotel rooms or student accommodation. In addition, the proposal envisages 35,000 square metres of retail and office development."

The developments could raise concerns among local residents about increased parking in local streets if parking is reduced at the courses.

HOUSES FOR COURSES

Developers eye new turf

CAULFIELD RACECOURSE

- 1200 residential units

- 20,000 square metres of office space

- 15,000 square metres of retail space

- Building up to 15 storeys high

MOONEE PONDS

- Large retirement facility


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