Greater Dandenong Council insists further flood management studies are needed before a proposed rezoning of the Melbourne Racing Club’s Sandown racecourse can be considered.

Sandown racecourse
Sandown racecourse's future is currently under review. (Photo: Urbis/MRC)

In a draft submission to the state government’s Sandown Racecourse Advisory Committee (SRAC), Greater Dandenong Council says it is concerned there is not enough information about the impact of potential flooding and stormwater damage on a redeveloped Sandown site.

The council also has reservations about a lack of detail involving plans to mitigate the impact and increased risk of potential flooding for downstream residents.

A Dandenong council meeting has heard that Melbourne Water and South East Water also share the same concerns.

“We would certainly hope that the advisory committee takes heed of the concerns that are put forward by these relevant authorities,” Brett Jackson, the council’s manager for strategic and environmental planning told a council meeting.

The council is adamant it doesn’t have sufficient information from the MRC to make informed decisions about the impact a redevelopment would have on flooding at Sandown because it claims “studies are out of date”.

In its submission, the council says there is no plan proposed to mitigate impacts on downstream properties and the MRC has not responded to previous recommendations and concerns raised by Melbourne Water and South East Water in a 2020 report.

Victorian Planning Minister Sonya Kilkenny has established the SRAC to advise on a proposed rezoning of the 112-hectare racecourse.

A redevelopment would include provision for 7500 dwellings for 16,000 residents.

The MRC plan also includes 20,000 square metres of commercial space and more than 20 hectares of public space including a school and community facilities.

A public exhibition and consultation process will end on June 24 with a hearing set to commence on August 12.

The decision is expected to be made in November, and the Planning Minister, not the local council, will make the final call on the rezoning.

“At the end of the day we (council) put forward our best case, our best argument moving forward,” Jackson said.

“If the minister decides not to require that information at this point in time, then that information will still be required through the precinct planning phase, which will follow the planning scheme amendment process.”

The Sandown site
The Sandown site is 112 hectares. (Photo: Urbis/MRC)

Jackson admitted the timing wasn’t ideal but does still provide an opportunity for that information to be provided.

“Council would need to sign off on that information at that point in time before they could go ahead and actually start submitting planning applications to undertake development,” he said.

“So there is a further step in the process that would hopefully safeguard council and residents at a later date. 

“But we would strongly advocate that this information is provided now so that is clear and upfront to everyone involved at this point.”

A submission from the MRC’s planning consultant Urbis said there were differing views offered from two flood assessments.

"We would strongly advocate that this information is provided now so that is clear and upfront to everyone involved at this point." - Brett Jackson

Greater Dandenong’s draft calls the Sandown proposal “one of the largest urban renewal sites in Melbourne with a potential for significant benefit if planned and implemented correctly”.

‘Serious’ debt but MRC’s masterplan can proceed without Sandown sale
A Sandown rezoning application will soon be available for public consultation as the Melbourne Racing Club considers funding options for the next phase of its Caulfield redevelopment.

However it does have concerns that a two-decade rollout of the development would make it a “disjointed” project as the MRC continued to race at the track.

A rezoned Sandown fit for development puts its value at upwards of $600 million.

The MRC board maintains that any move on Sandown’s future will be decided by a members’ vote - unlikely to be held until next year.

Opponents of Sandown’s closure say the MRC needs to sell Sandown to fund the next stage of its Caulfield master plan.

Decision on Sandown’s future looms in 2024
2024 is set to be a crucial year in deciding the future of Sandown racecourse.