Melbourne Racing Club Pushes On with $3.5bn Sandown Redevelopment


Melbourne Racing Club is pushing ahead with plans for the $3.5 billion redevelopment of Sandown Racecourse, a major strategic urban renewal project in the city’s south-east.

The racing club has submitted plans to rezone the historic racecourse, 25 km from Melbourne’s CBD, for residential use with the Greater Dandenong Council.

The club has been feeling out plans to develop the site since 2017 after previously stating publicly that the venue, popular with racers but not the public, burns a $5-million hole in its balance sheet annually.

If approved, the site’s rezoning would potentially enable the 112ha horse and motor-racing venue to be transformed into a 7500-home masterplanned estate.

The redevelopment would also feature a new school, community centre, and hospitality and entertainment venue near Princes Highway as well as 12,000sq m of retail space—including a full-line supermarket and 8000sq m of non-retail commercial use, creating upwards of 600 ongoing jobs.

Under the plans, the club would deliver a range of home typologies “to meet the needs of Melbourne’s growing population” that “focuses on liveability” leveraging the site’s proximity to Sandown Park Railway Station.

Upwards of 400 dwellings have been earmarked as affordable housing for key workers, such as teachers and emergency services personnel.

The ageing racecourse is bound by the Princes Highway to the north-east, Corrigan Road to the east, residential properties to the south, the Pakenham-Cranbourne Railway corridor to the south-east, and residential properties and Warner Reserve to the west. 

The masterplanned development will be divided into four stages to be completed over a 20-year construction schedule with separate permits required for each stage.

The town centre precinct, towards the site’s south between the retained heritage-listed grandstand and Sandown Park railway station, will include buildings of up to 12 storeys.

▲ Melbourne Racing Club has liaised with council officers since late 2017 on the proposed development plans.

Prospective buildings in the site’s western and eastern precincts will reach six storeys as will buildings in the development’s northern precinct, dubbed the Princes precinct due to its position along Princes Highway.

Due to the size of the project, the council has handed the decision over to planning minister Richard Wynne. The plans will go on exhibition and be open for community consultation through a ministerial planning permit before any decision.

After public submissions, the council will decide whether to proceed with the planning scheme amendment.

The project will then be reviewed by an independent ministerial advisory committee who will provide advice on its merits and whether a permit should be granted.

If fully realised, at least 15 per cent of the racecourse will be kept as open space and “revitalised” in order to create a new corridor of parks, trails, fitness stations, playgrounds and sports courts.

According to city planning director Jody Bosman, who spoke to the development’s objections at the Dandenong council’s recent bimonthly meeting, about 7.9 per cent of the site will be unencumbered, while 7.1 per cent will be aligned with Mile Creek and its banks.

“Should the proposed amendment gain ministerial authorisation and goes on public exhibition, matters such as the amount of open space to be provided will be available for public review and comment,” city planning director Jody Bosman said.

While attracting some community opposition, a report produced by the council addressed density concerns noting the estate would require widening of Corrigan Road and an upgrade of its intersection with the Princes Highway to cater for increased traffic.

“It should be noted that seeking ministerial authorisation does not imply council support for or against the proposal but enables the formal amendment process to commence,” the report said. 

The Melbourne Racing Club, alongside Racing Victoria, is now preparing to consult industry participants, Melbourne Racing Club members, the community and other stakeholders.

Melbourne Racing Club has had Racing Victoria’s blessing over recent years to explore options for the racecourse, as long as proceeds of any future development also benefits the sport generally.

Horse-racing and motor racing will remain at Sandown for the foreseeable future.


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