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Adjournment: Caulfield Racecourse Reserve

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Samantha Ratnam
Leader of the Victorian Greens
22 February 2022

My adjournment matter tonight is for the Minister for Planning, and my ask is that the minister ensures that the Glen Eira council immediately receives all relevant planning documents that allowed the destruction of heritage trees and buildings at Caulfield Racecourse.

I was disappointed to hear that under the cover of Christmas Eve the minister—at the request of Melbourne Racing Club—approved the amendment for the redevelopment of the Caulfield Racecourse.

Caulfield Racecourse is set to be redeveloped into a new public recreation space, including much-needed green open space for Melbourne’s south.

However, following the approval of the amendment, 42 trees on the site were destroyed almost immediately, one of which was a pine grown from the seed of Gallipoli’s Lone Pine. The remaining trees—some more than 100 years old—are set to be removed soon.

While the racecourse was subject to local heritage protection, this was overridden when the planning amendment was approved, making it possible for the trees and other buildings on the site to be destroyed.

And while Heritage Victoria has since received a nomination for an interim protection order for the precinct, which has put a temporary stop on works at the site, the damage has already been done.

The community is rightly outraged at the loss of these much-loved heritage trees and at the actions of Melbourne Racing Club in pushing the minister to approve the amendment and authorise the works.

Because the minister has taken control of the redevelopment, there’s been no public exhibition of plans for the redevelopment. Even Glen Eira council has been totally cut out of the process and has not been able to see the new plans for the development.

In Glen Eira, open and green space is sorely needed. It has the second-least amount of open space of any Victorian council region. But now the council and community are worried that being shut out of the redevelopment process will prevent them from saving the existing trees and buildings on the site and will lead to the loss of precious local heritage.

It’s disappointing to so frequently hear stories exactly like this, where the minister has overridden council and community concerns and imposed his own vision onto a development, especially as this usually results in the loss of trees, green space or local heritage that the community is desperately trying to save.

Our councils should be part of every key planning decision for their local communities, not completely locked out of the process and unable to even see the relevant documentation.

I ask the minister to provide Glen Eira council with all relevant planning documents that allowed the destruction of heritage trees and buildings at Caulfield Racecourse.

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Samantha Ratnam
Leader of the Victorian Greens
22 February 2022
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