$570 million plan unveiled to transform Caulfield Racecourse
Updated plans have been unveiled to transform Caulfield Racecourse into a sporting and entertainment precinct, but does it signal the end of Sandown?
As part of the ambitious $570 million redevelopment, the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve in-field would be opened up as a community precinct, which is about 10 times the size of the MCG.
The Trust’s plan aims to create one of the largest public spaces in Melbourne’s south and will feature a large concert space able to accommodate 15,000 fans, an indoor sports complex and up to seven sporting fields in the large space within the perimeter of the racetrack, linked by tunnels to areas outside the track.
The plan also includes an additional racetrack at the top-tier horse racing venue. A vision was first unveiled for the future of Caulfield Racecourse in May 2019.
With the Racecourse Trust currently negotiating with federal, state and local governments over potential contributions, the Melbourne Racing Club has committed $285 million to the project funded through the sale of Sandown racecourse for housing.
The future of Sandown, which the Melbourne Racing Club also owns, has been clouded for some time, with the MRC pushing ahead to re-zone the racing and motorsport venue to allow for a future housing development.
Sandown’s closure would mean Melbourne loses one of its four major metropolitan racetracks and its only permanent motorsport venue in the suburban area. Opened in 1962, it currently hosts the annual Supercars event, and 35 thoroughbred race meets per year.
There are concerns the MRC’s plan to develop the 112-hectare racetrack into a new suburb the size of Wangaratta may create traffic congestion and cram in too much housing.
The 15-year plan for Caulfield includes two sports hubs within the track - one for sports such as cricket and football and the other with synthetic pitches for sports such as hockey, plus an outdoor gym and picnic areas.
Walking, running and cycling trails will be created alongside the racetrack, while gardens, a skatepark, meeting rooms, open spaces for markets and off-leash areas will also be developed.
Launched on Wednesday by Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, the Minister said the development would help the racecourse become a “truly inclusive” open space, saying “I look forward to seeing the plan come to fruition and thank the trust for their continued efforts in promoting Caulfield Racecourse Reserve as an accessible, inclusive public space for the community to enjoy.”
Major construction work is expected to begin in 2023 when horse race training relocates away from Caulfield. Before 2023, work will take place to improve accessibility and create public spaces for events such as markets.
Under the plan, Caulfield will also host night racing on a second track. Fine-dining restaurants and pubs will also be built around the grandstand.
With the redevelopment set to transform Caulfield, Racecourse Trust Chair, Sam Almaliki said “it will be a great entertainment precinct where you can go and see a concert and experience great dining with your family.
“It will be the centre of community life - a community and events destination of state significance with an enduring reputation as a premier thoroughbred horse racing venue.”
The Glen Eira City Council area has the lowest proportion of open public space of any council area, with neighbouring Stonnington the second worst.
A business case is being developed by PricewaterhouseCoopers, in conjunction with Glen Eira City Council and the Victorian Government, to detail the return on investment.