Caulfield Racecourse is planning to incorporate recreational sporting fields in the centre of the racecourse according to Glen Eira Mayor, Cr. Neil Pilling.
Cr. Pilling said that as part of the new open space plan, the council wants to make use of the centre of the race track by turning it into sporting fields for recreational activities.
The centre of the racecourse could “hold ten sporting fields which are so desperately needed,” he said, especially since “we have the least amount of open space in Melbourne”. The only problem with this plan is that the land isn’t owned by the council. It is “Crown Land,” owned by the government, Cr. Pilling said.
The use of this Crown Land is determined by Crown appointed Trustees: six nominees of the Melbourne Racing Club (MRC), three Councillors of the Glen Eira City Council and six nominees of the State Government. These Trustees meet once a year in March and their discussions are withheld from the public with no minutes or annual report published.
Currently the land is being leased by the Trustees to MRC which means they control the use of the land. When Caulfield Racecourse was “originally gifted to the people in 1853 by Queen Victoria,” its purpose was to be the “land for the people,” Cr. Pilling said. This arrangement between the Trustees and MRC has made the purpose of the land almost fully commercial. Just last year it was estimated that members of the community lost fifteen million dollars from the Tabret, Cr. Pilling said.
Cr. Pilling has suggested that the development is almost certain to go ahead if the council can come to an agreement with the current horse trainer’s to relocate to a new training facility.
Caulfield Racecourse track supervisor, Warwick Smith acknowledges, “There is a shortage of recreational facilities.” However, emphasises “the centre of the racecourse will be the only free parking on race days as an apartment development has been approved for the existing car park!”