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  • Moonee Valley racecourse apartment plans pared back by planning minister Richard Wynne

    2018 - 07.03

    Planning Minister Richard Wynne has pared back a controversial approval for thousands of new apartments that was granted by the now Opposition Leader Matthew Guy to the powerful Moonee Valley Racing Club.
    Nanjing Night Net

    But Labor has stopped short of a move it initiated in opposition to rip up the controversial scheme, which was approved by Mr Guy as planning minister last September.

    Mr Guy’s approval included permission for towers climbing to 20 storeys, and apartment blocks of more than 16 storeys on more than half of the proposed development site at the racecourse.

    In a new development plan to be gazetted by the government on Monday, Mr Wynne will introduce a strict rule to stop the racing club building apartments and townhouses higher than three or six levels around the edges of the massive site – where the racing club’s grandstand now sits.

    And he will give approval for the club to push ahead with a development of up to 16 storeys on a smaller portion of the land, towards the centre of the Moonee Ponds site. He will ditch the 20-storey plans approved by Mr Guy.

    But the plans to be given the nod by Mr Wynne are not far off parts of an initial proposal, revealed by The Age in 2011, for more than 2000 apartments and townhouses on this area of the racecourse.

    Mr Wynne confirmed the building height rules he would introduce next week would allow about 2000 homes to be built on the site.

    “It brings certainty to the development, provides a good outcome in terms of community, and we are confident – given where it’s located – it will be a quality development,” Mr Wynne said.

    The area’s well-organised resident group, Save Moonee Ponds, had been furious at the plans approved by Mr Guy last year.

    On Wednesday, president Jenny Nola said the plan to be approved by Mr Wynne was “better than what what the previous government did”.

    “It’s positive to see a reduction in building heights, but we still believe that the minister has been generous to the racecourse,” Ms Nola said.

    She said Mr Guy’s plans would have allowed all of the racecourse’s heritage elements to be lost. “The race club wanted to nuke the whole thing,” she said.

    The new plans to be signed off by Mr Wynne will still require a realignment of the Moonee Valley racing track, and the construction of a new grandstand on the northern border of the site.

    Ms Nola said many of the towers that could now be built would still be too high, especially on the southern side of the site where they would climb to 10 levels across the road from predominantly single-level homes.

    The racing club’s chief executive Michael Browell declined to respond to questions about the plan sent to him earlier this week.

    This year Moonee Valley Racing Club hired lobbyist Andres Puig, who has close ties to one of Labor’s right-wing factions.

    On Wednesday Mr Puig would not talk about his work for the club. Mr Wynne said Mr Puig’s role in plans for the site were irrelevant to his considerations.

    Opposition planning spokesman David Davis said that, in opposition, Laborhad moved a disallowance motion that would have completely quashed the Coalition’s approval and returned the site to its old zoning rules.

    “Labor said one thing before the election and now Daniel Andrews is doing something completely different,” Mr Davis said.

    The disallowance motion that Labor moved in opposition, to quash Mr Guy’s approval for Moonee Valley’s plans, became void when the last parliament finished.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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