The Glen Eira council has made plans to bring about larger accessibility for residents in relation to the Caulfield racecourse, as a component of their larger “Open space strategy”, to combat the municipalities lack of park or sports- grounds, while also preparing for an influx of future residents.
The draft of the open space strategy characterizes Caulfield as having the “least amount of open space in the municipality with the majority of the population not having access to open space within easy safe walking distance of their homes/workplace”.
In a speech to Monash university students, Councilor Neil Pilling said, “most other municipalities such as Bayside or Stonington either have [a] Beach, or the Yarra River, or the Gardeners creek trail. They have areas that they can actually use. We’re sort of like an island, we have very limited open space”.
The Caulfield racecourse, which is crown parkland, was officially gifted to the people in 1853, has been a primarily state- controlled enterprise. This land, which Pilling pointed out to be “owned by the people, but not run by the people”, is at present highly difficult for residents to use for recreational purposes.
One of the policies that Pilling wishes to enact is to remove training from the Caulfield grounds, and have the horses moved to a different area.
Questions have been raised about the affect that this new public usage will have on the racecourse’s surface, with some claiming that it may cause damage. However, Pilling believes that the removal of training will actually help the grounds.
As well as this, the issue with the way profits are made off of public land is considered to problematic by Pilling, on an industry “that the racing club profits on, but the community gets [nothing back]”. He goes on to say that there is an issue of “equity and accountability”.
A resident of Glen Eira, when asked about the availability of the Caulfield racecourse, said, “I of course think that the land should be made available. It would be unfair for it not to be”.