Archive:  Woodend Racecourse Reserve

Last Updated  25/2/17



NEW  Action Required  Council Asks For Comments By 28 February On Enormous New Equine "Shed" Proposal At Woodend's Racecourse Reserve

(25/2/17 - C)  Offer to donate a 64 x 30 x 6 metre indoor equine arena for Woodend's pony club conflicts with environmental, open space and public land values.  Council says a planning permit is not required, so this is your only opportunity to have a say.


Council is seeking comments by 5.00pm on Tuesday February 28 on an offer it has received to donate a very large indoor equine arena to be built on Woodend's Racecourse Reserve for the Woodend Pony Club. 


The arena would operate 7 days a week, from 9am til 6.00pm weekdays and an hour longer on weekends, a substantial increase in activity over current occasional pony club use of the Reserve.


Apparently only the shed would be donated to Council, and no information is provided about management or staffing, or costs for connection to electricity/sewer/other services, lighting, works, on-going maintenance, traffic/car parking or purchase of equine equipment.  


At 64 metres x 30 metres, this cream-coloured indoor equine arena is even bigger than the proposed Olympic-sized arena at Mount Macedon (60 metres x 20 metres) that was refused by Council on 22 February 2017.  From plans on Council's website it also seems to have a bigger footprint than Buffalo Stadium.


To find out more about the proposal:  See also a letter sent to residents.

MRRA Says:


With the previous council, the outcome would have been pre-ordained.  With the new council, we and many others are hoping 'greater good', 'proper process', 'public interest' and 'public land' will prevail. 


The Woodend Racecourse Reserve is Crown land, managed (but not owned) by Council, and operates under the Crown Land (Reserves) Act, which requires a Committee of Management.  Is there a management plan or masterplan for the Reserve?  If there is, why isn't it publicly available, and is such an indoor equine arena endorsed by the plan?  If it isn't, or there isn't a plan, how can this proposal even be considered?


The Reserve itself is zoned Public Conservation and Resource Zone [PCRZ], the most restrictive zone applied to public land in Victoria.  PCRZ confirms and prioritises the Reserve's conservation values, including highly significant native grasslands, Five Mile Creek and other ecological values.  Environmental Significance and Vegetation Protection overlays are also applied.


The Reserve is also an important public space for broader community use, including active and passive recreation. 


Although a specific interest group would benefit from this leviathan indoor equine arena, other interests and values need equal (or more) consideration.  It's a game-changer, and it's on public land - public open space, in fact.  Issues with the proposal are self-evident:

Council says this large development doesn't need a planning permit.  Why not?  The Purposes of the Public Conservation and Resource Zone promote the land being used to prioritise environmental outcomes - they don't include 'providing very large sheds for indoor equine arenas'.  


Whether for equine or any other use, a proposal such as this would significantly alter the appearance, role and function of public land, just because somebody wants it.  To accept this ad hoc offer would also put specific interests over the public interest, without a plan or appropriate process, consideration of impacts and costs, or full consultation with and agreement from the community.   There must be higher standards than this.


Short notice, but please put in comments by 28 February (next Tuesday) asking councillors to put the broader public interest, the environment and proper process first by saying 'thanks, but no thanks' to this gift.  Note: comments can only be forwarded by email: