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The Flemington Racecourse rail line will not be used for anything other than race days for the foreseeable future, the Andrews government says. Even if the Victoria Racing Club gets its way and is allowed to build three residential towers close by.
If the racecourse rail line was used for daily commuter services – an idea floated by the VRC as part of its massive residential development – it would badly impact Craigieburn and Upfield line commuters, Public Transport Victoria says.
To justify building three apartment towers next to the racecourse, the VRC floated putting into permanent service Flemington Racecourse railway station – now used only for events like the Melbourne Cup.
Three towers proposed by the Victoria Racing Club on land not needed for racing at Flemington Racecourse.
But Public Transport Victoria says that while running trains "may appear beneficial", it would have "a number of operational and infrastructure issues".
It said in its submission that existing bus and tram services could cope with the commuter increase if the apartments were built.
The VRC needs the Andrews government to rezone the land before any residential project can proceed. It wants to sell the land with a residential zoning, to raise millions of dollars for a new grandstand.
One of the parcels of land where three towers would be built at Flemington Racecourse. Photo: Penny Stephens
In all, the racing club wants to build four towers on land zoned for racing activities. The fourth tower – next to Epsom Road – rises to 31 storeys.
It had partnered with Chinese developer Greenland, China's fastest growing property group with income of more than A$3 billion last year.
But it emerged at the Planning Panels Victoria hearing that Greenland is no longer involved. It was part of the Flemington plan put together under the previous state government. Greenland could not be reached for comment on why it was no longer involved. VRC chief executive Simon Love confirmed the club had not extended contracts of sale with Greenland.
An artists impression of a proposed tower on land on Epsom Road owned by Flemington Racecourse.
Melbourne City Council and Moonee Valley Council both oppose the residential plan. Melbourne City Council's barrister Juliet Forsyth told the hearing last week that there was little strategic justification for the apartments. If they were built, those near the railway station should be restricted to heights no taller than 14 storeys, she said.
And she said there was not an appropriate mix of housing types. "This development appears to be aimed at the investor market and will deliver more of the same: small one and two bedroom apartments with few measurable controls to ensure reasonable levels of amenity and [an] appropriate mix of dwelling types."
Among residents in Ascot Vale whose homes face onto the land that would be developed is Peter Tyrrell. He said what the VRC had proposed was simply inappropriate, because it was so large.
An artists impression of the towers proposed by the VRC for Flemington Racecourse.
"The biggest issue is the density that's proposed," he said, predicting residents in the planned apartments would be "90 per cent car based" because only an unreliable bus service was nearby.
"The traffic around here at the moment is busy. If this went ahead, during peak hour it would be bloody diabolical..
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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