Caulfield locals angered by proposed entertainment venue at racecourse reserve

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A proposal to build a new two-storey entertainment venue at Caulfield Racecourse Reserve has angered locals, who say it will cause intolerable noise and traffic congestion.

Melbourne Racing Club, which leases the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve, wants to relocate the Glasshouse – a bistro, gaming room and function space – to a new two-storey venue 200 metres away in the north-eastern car park area.

Residents are opposing a new entertainment venue at Caulfield Racecourse Reserve.Credit: Chris Hopkins

The existing building would be mostly demolished but the art deco Tea Room, which was built in the 1930s, would be restored as a location for community events and meeting point for event crowds.

The club says moving the Glasshouse would unlock the reserve for greater community use by providing a new entry forecourt and making it easier to access the lawns.

“The proposed relocation of the existing Glasshouse venues will be a benefit to the local community,” said Melbourne Racing Club’s corporate affairs manager, Jared Newton.

But some locals say the new venue will adversely affect residents living in Queens Avenue and Derby Crescent.

An artist’s impression of the proposed new entry forecourt at Caulfield Racecourse.

“The proposed venue is larger and more prominent and the community are querying how it is possible that the Melbourne Racing Club can commandeer public land when it is clearly not in the public interest,” said Queens Avenue resident Jane Karslake.

Under the proposal, 105 poker machines would be moved from the existing Glasshouse to the new venue. The operation hours – from 8am to 4am – are to remain the same.

Melbourne Racing Club provided legal advice that the pokies could be relocated to the new building under existing use rights.

Glen Eira City Council said it accepted the legal advice and it was not up to the council to consider the acceptability of the machines as part of the planning permit application for the relocated venue.

The proposed new Glasshouse venue.

But residents say the new site, which is opposite Caulfield train station and close to Monash University’s Caulfield campus, is an inappropriate place for a gaming venue.

“The existence of a large gambling facility in such proximity to the university’s Caulfield campus presents a threat to the suitability of Monash University as a place for the education of students, particularly full fee-paying overseas students,” said Queens Avenue resident Gerald Sherry.

Melbourne singer Stephen Cummings, who lives in Caulfield, said a gambling venue was not appropriate use of Crown land.

“I have lived on Queens Avenue for over 25 years, where the entrance to the venue will be, and there has been no community consultation at all.”

The Caulfield Racecourse Reserve Trust, which manages the land, said on its website that the new venue would deliver “significant environmental initiatives” while allowing the existing venue to be demolished and the historic Tea Room restored.

The Trust and the Department of Environment and Planning approved the new venue as the landowner representative and Melbourne Racing Club had sought approvals from Heritage Victoria and Glen Eira council.

Glen Eira City Council CEO Rebecca McKenzie said the council had received an application to relocate the venue within the same land title area.

She said council staff would assess car parking, safety and the impact on the amenity of the surrounding area. “We haven’t formed a position about the proposal at this stage,” McKenzie said.

Heritage Victoria said it was assessing the application.

Scott May, deputy CEO of the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission, said Melbourne Racing Club would also need to seek approval from the gambling regulator to relocate the venue.

The Caulfield Racecourse Reserve was established in the mid-1800s as Crown land to be used for horse racing and public recreation as well as a park.

But in 2014, the auditor-general found preference had been given to horse racing and insufficient attention given to the reserve for recreational use and as a public park.

In 2021, the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve Trust unveiled plans for a $570 million redevelopment of the reserve, which would create 10 MCG ovals worth of public open space.

In April, the trust warned it required ongoing operational funding to keep the reserve’s 23 hectares of parkland open.

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