Category Archives: Open Space

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.”

 

 

 

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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 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.

 

 

 

New Carnegie Parkland – $3.6 million for 680 sqm ($5,294/sqm)

Although GERA has some reservations re the purchase of this site, GERA welcomes  Council’s purchase of this land.  The land is in a prime location and in a seriously open space deprived, densely populated major centre.  Given Council’s poor past performance in purchasing open space (since the early 2000’s), it is a step in the right direction.

Cnr. Neerim and Koornang Roads, Carnegie

The site has the potential to enhance Council’s recently presented Concept Plans for the Carnegie Centre.  However, we question the price paid ($5,294/sqm + unknown costs of conversion to parkland) and the extent to which Council is planning to address Glen Eira’s long term shortage of parkland.

Yep, real estate opportunities need to be acted upon as and when they occur – a point GERA has made in the past.  However, Council can also plan to acquire parkland in strategic locations by applying a Parkland Acquisition Overlay (PAO) – this has rarely happened in Glen Eira.   A PAO enables Council to “tag” properties (individual and/or adjoining) for future parkland.  PAO’s do not involve forecable acquisition – they come into play when the owner opts to sell and allow Council to pay a premium (over market value) to ensure acquisition.

What concerns GERA is that Concept Plans for each major activity centre (a.k.a. Urban Village) are in the process of being presented.  The area of all centres has been expanded and show significant increases in development densities, however, none identify areas where a PAO is or could be applied.

We remind readers, that in 2008, Glen Eira was identified as having the least per capita open space in Metro Melbourne (less than half the Metro average), since that time development has further  outstripped parkland acquisitions by Council  resulting in a further decrease in the per capita statistics.  Recent opportunities have enabled Council to purchase some individual future “pocket parks” yet such purchases do little to address the increasing demand for parkland.  It appears Council has overlooked the long term potential of PAO’s to purchase and expand parkland within Glen Eira.

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.