Submissions calling for thoroughbred racing at Sandown to continue will not be deliberated on during a public hearing into the potential sale and redevelopment of the southeast Melbourne racecourse. 

The Sandown Racecourse Advisory Committee says it can't consider submissions on the future of racing at the track. (Photo by Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images)

As the process for the Melbourne Racing Club’s (MRC) plans for Sandown moves into another stage, a Victorian government-appointed committee says only the MRC can decide on the future of racing at the racetrack.

The Sandown Racecourse Advisory Committee (SRAC) received 255 responses after calling for submissions following an initial assessment of the MRC’s proposal.

“The committee notes that many submissions call for the retention of motor car sports/and or horse racing,” the SRAC said in a letter seen by The Straight.

“It is important to note that the committee is not able to consider those submissions in the context that these are decisions and matters for the (MRC).

“Our role is to consider the relevant submissions in relation to the exhibited Amendment in that it seeks to provide the vision and opportunity for mixed-use development of the site, over time.

A preliminary review of the submissions showed mixed support for the MRC’s plans, according to the committee.

Key issues revealed include:

  • site layout and development
  • traffic and access, including public transport
  • retention of heritage fabric and features, including the grandstand
  • form of the planning controls
  • opportunities for retail development
  • time and location of community facilities, including schools
  • staging and timing of the development

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 ended on June 24 and a directions hearing has been set aside for July 17.

The SRAC will allow 30 days for a public hearing on the project, which will open on August 12.

It must submit a report with recommendations to the Minister for Planning, Sonya Kilkenny, within 30 business days of the end of the hearing or receipt of further information directed by the committee.

The Minister will make the final decision in November on whether the draft Amendment should proceed and in what form.

The report will be publicly released at the Minister’s discretion.

Flood concerns prompt Council questions on Sandown project
A local council says the Sandown Racecourse Advisory Committee should seek updated flood management plans before making a decision on its future.

Ahead of last week’s submission deadline, Greater Dandenong Council raised concerns that more flood management studies were needed before the rezoning should be considered.

In its submission to the SRAC, the council said there hasn’t been enough information about the impact of potential flooding and stormwater damage on the 122-hectare site.

The council claimed plans to mitigate the impact and increase the risk of potential flooding for downstream residents have been lacking in detail.

‘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.

While acknowledging that any redevelopment of one of Melbourne’s largest urban renewal sites could benefit the local community, the council says it is concerned it will be a “disjointed” project if the MRC elects to extend a timeline for horse and motor racing.

“The committee itself is unaware of the timing of the phasing out of the existing uses of the site and the decisions made by the (MRC) in that regard” - Sandown Racecourse Advisory Committee

If a rezoning application is approved, conservative estimates put Sandown’s value at $600-$800 million.

The MRC, which has completed the initial stages of its master plan for Caulfield, has ruled out a partial sell-off of Sandown.

Based on a 2023 independent report, the MRC says the report found a part-sale would have a $300 million impact on Sandown’s value.