Tag Archives: Auditor General Report

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.

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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.

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PLANNING FORUM UPDATE – PART 1

Again our apologies – unfortunately, due to a technical issue, we are unable to present this update on our November, 2014 forum. We will publish the update as soon as the 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.