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Horses for courses: Greenland Group's Flemington Life in detail

Located less than six kilometres from the Melbourne CBD, Flemington Racecourse occupies a 125ha site in an area undergoing significant transformation and growth. Managed by the Victoria Racing Club (VRC), a long-term master plan was developed for the facility during 2009, with the aim of maximising revenue opportunities for the ongoing investment in facilities for the racecourse and significant capital expenditure undertakings such as replacement of the Member's Old Grandstand.

Part of this master plan involved the sale of non-core land to generate the funds for investment in new facilities.

Enter Greenland Group, China's largest real estate developer which acquired two sites covering a combined 40,000sqm. Known as Flemington Green and Epsom Road, these land holdings were surplus to the needs of the VRC and were offloaded to Greenland Group with the expectation of large-scale development.

The revenue from their sale would then be invested towards the development of the new Club Stand seen below.

The Club Stand is expected to be built shortly. Image courtesy of Bates Smart.

Flemington Green occupies 30,000sqm of land, situated between Fisher Parade and Leonard Crescent. The site is located at the high point of the promontory above the Racecourse and the Maribyrnong River. The site's existing uses consist primarily of open lot car parks and three dwellings along Fisher Parade.

Epsom Road on the other hand occupies approximately 10,000sqm of land and is adjacent to the intersection of Epsom, Racecourse and Ascot Vale Roads, at the end of the Racecourse Road Activity Centre. The site is currently undeveloped with the exception of a single level building: the heritage listed Former Jockeys’ Convalescent Lodge which will be retained as part of any future development onsite.

Greenland's plans for the sites were revealed late last year when - together with the VRC - it submitted a Planning Scheme Amendment Request with the Minister for Planning, which sought to change the planning controls for both sites. This would allow for the developer to move forward with plans for its 'Flemington Life' development, consisting of four towers ranging in height from 14-storeys (AHD 73.7m) to 31-storeys (AHD 123.9m), supported by medium-density dwellings across a further six buildings.

Flemington Green height and dwelling types. Image courtesy Woods Bagot

An Indicative Development Concept (IDC) has been prepared for both sites which provides extensive details on the type of development that could be accommodated across the two sites. These do not represent the final form of any development on the site, but rather reflect the type, scale and siting of built form that maybe be permitted within the parameters proposed under the new planning controls.

The building envelopes shown in the proposed Comprehensive Development Zone for the low-rise component only allow for variations in height and setbacks.

The IDC for the Flemington Green site, as prepared by Woods Bagot, seeks the development of 736 dwellings, based on a built form that comprises three residential towers, two street level podia and a lower density precinct containing townhouse and apartment buildings up to 4-storeys. The proposal also includes scope for a small amount of ancillary retail, commercial space and community facilities that will provide local services for residents.

Flemington Green as rendered from Fischer Parade. Image courtesy Woods Bagot

The architectural design response adopts a rectilinear architectural language at the perimeter of the master plan and transforms this language to a curved formal language in the centre. This curved formal language continues into the tower geometry, referencing Flemington Racecourse’s distinctive curvilinear shape.

Woods Bagot

The three towers which are expected to form Flemington Green are all distinguished by individual responses to articulation of facades, which draw on the characteristics of the racecourse. These are summarised below:

Facade reference images. Image courtesy Woods Bagot
  • Tower 1, 25-storeys - The Veil: The design concept for the new facade expresses the Flemington’s fascination with fashion.The entire building is enclosed by a skeletal metal frame, which like a veil conveys a mysterious and ambiguous definition by discreetly revealing what is behind. The veil creates a dynamic gesture and form.
  • Tower 2, 20-storeys - The Farrier: The facade design concept is derived from the materiality and tectonic nature of the farriers tools. This is represented by the curvaceous external balconies forms which are asymmetrically offset to create a sculptural form.
  • Tower 3, 14-storeys - Silks: The facade design concept references the silky shiny colours of the jockeys outfit. The smooth curved form of the floor plan is emphasised by glassy exterior treatment, this is contrasted by the striking colours which highlight the recessed balconies.

The IDC for the Epsom Road seeks to deliver a high quality, high-density residential development at the apex of the Racecourse Road Activity Centre and Flemington Racecourse, providing a gateway to the precinct. The IDC allows for a 31-storey proposal with a total of 398 dwellings, based on a built form that comprises of a typical tower and podium format.

Epsom Road Indicative Development Concept. Image courtesy Woods Bagot

While heavy with detail, it is worth noting that the above designs and images still designated as development concepts created to provide an indication of the planning controls that Greenland Group and Woods Bagot are seeking push through. Whether the development team largely retain the above designs once each land parcel is subject to individual planning submissions remains to be seen.

14 comments

Len's picture

This is predicated on permanent activation of the rail spur line to Flemington Racecouse that only operates during events. Public Transport Victora have explicitly stated that they have no plans to activate the line and to do so would disrupt services on the Craigiburn line.

Also whose expectation was it that these sites were to be for large scale development? Certainly not me as an immediately affected neighbour.

No mention in the article either about rights of existing residents being removed in relation to notification and appeal on decisions about planning permits.

And when is 6 storeys medium density?

This forum needs more balance if it represent Urban Melboure.

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theboynoodle's picture

Also whose expectation was it that these sites were to be for large scale development? Certainly not me as an immediately affected neighbour.

Are developments only allowed if people nearby expected them? Here's a tip.. whenever you see a bit of under-utilized land in Melbourne, set your expectations to 'will probs be developed'.. this will avoid unpleasant surprises.

And when is 6 storeys medium density?

Well in a city where buildings range from 1 to 100 storeys, it sure as **** isn't 'high' density.

This forum needs more balance if it represent Urban Melboure.

The article was written, you were able to post a response. Isn't that what balance is? Perhaps somebody should write a piece about the removal of existing residents' rights that you allude to. Why not offer to do so?

This is an article about a proposal with some pretty pictures. I'm interested in that sort of thing. I'm also interested in the politics of development, the balancing of the interests of the pre-existing community with the wider obligation of planners to ensure that we, y'know, build new homes in places people want to live. I'm especially interested if goalposts are moved and right overriden.

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Len's picture

Are developments only allowed if people nearby expected them? Here's a tip.. whenever you see a bit of under-utilized land in Melbourne, set your expectations to 'will probs be developed'.. this will avoid unpleasant surprises.

Here's a tip - read what I said and what I didn't say. I didn't say development wasn't allowed as you infer. It's about the type of development that's appropriate and existing residents having the ability to have input ... particularly ones who have lived in the area long term. In this instance there will be limited to no ability for residents to have input.

Well in a city where buildings range from 1 to 100 storeys, it sure as **** isn't 'high' density.

Here's a tip - do the math ... the 'Flemington Hill' proposal will equate to around40 dwellings per Ha which is regarded as high density in all the reference material that I've come across in a professional career of 30 odd years in this business.

The article was written, you were able to post a response. Isn't that what balance is? Perhaps somebody should write a piece about the removal of existing residents' rights that you allude to. Why not offer to do so?

The article fails to mention the proposal doesn't even have planning approvals, is not supported by OGVA, PTV, MCC, MVCC and has not been identified as a precinct not a strategic site in Plan Melbourne nor Plan Melbourne Refresh. That's the imbalance.

This is an article about a proposal with some pretty pictures. I'm interested in that sort of thing. I'm also interested in the politics of development, the balancing of the interests of the pre-existing community with the wider obligation of planners to ensure that we, y'know, build new homes in places people want to live. I'm especially interested if goalposts are moved and right overriden.

Gotta look beyond pretty pictures and actually think - if this sort of development was reasonable in these sorts of areas why the need to remove third party rights?

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Mark Baljak's picture

The article fails to mention....

Please! The article is an impartial design analysis by Laurence of the site masterplan; nothing more and nothing less.

If you don't like that the website didn't garner the opinion of every Tom, Dick and Harry for this particular article - well then you can add your concerns by posting a comment

Oh wait you already have...

Better yet add some clickable links to the bodies you've mentioned above who have failed to support and readers make their own assertions.

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Len's picture

Speculation on speculation, the article itself says:

"designs and images still designated as development concepts created to provide an indication of the planning controls that Greenland Group and Woods Bagot are seeking push through" (sic)

It's not the final design so what value any design review and clearly this is being used to try to 'market' the proposal. Words like "seeking push through" hardly suggest partiality and posting this the day before the Planning Panel commences hearings is just a little presumptuous.

And yes as said I have added my concerns as a critique of the article - if others don't like those comments I'm happy to be directed to where those comments might be factually incorrect but critique of critique with invective is pretty pointless.

Clickable links? See below: No HTML tags allowed. However a google search of Flemimgton Life Planning Panels Victoria Moonee Valley Council pretty readily brings up all the information relevant.

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theboynoodle's picture

Here's a tip - read what I said and what I didn't say. I didn't say development wasn't allowed as you infer. It's about the type of development that's appropriate and existing residents having the ability to have input ... particularly ones who have lived in the area long term. In this instance there will be limited to no ability for residents to have input.

What you did was pose a question, to which the answer we were supposed to imply was 'nobody's', and then, I have to assume, we were to infer that this was a problem. It's quite clear from your comments that you think that this proposal is inappropriate, and that you think your opinion should be taken into account. If you're not asking that developments be disallowed if local residents think that they are inappropriate for an area.. or, indeed, if they were merely unexpected.. then what, precisely, are you asking?

Here's a tip - do the math ... the 'Flemington Hill' proposal will equate to around40 dwellings per Ha which is regarded as high density in all the reference material that I've come across in a professional career of 30 odd years in this business.

Am I doing the math on the number of storeys, or the dwellings per Ha? If it's the latter that concerned you then you should have said so instead of citing the former?

Anyway according to this: http://www.landcom.com.au/downloads/uploaded/density%20guide%20book%20v9...

40 dw/Ha is on the border between medium and high... so it does all depend on how you're measuring.

Gotta look beyond pretty pictures and actually think - if this sort of development was reasonable in these sorts of areas why the need to remove third party rights?

Because NIMBYs. Because the third parties you are talking about can't be trusted to be reasonable themselves. There really aren't very many 'existing residents' *anywhere* who live in a property that people nearby wouldn't have objected to the construction of. Everybody agrees that more homes are needed.. but everyone also seems to agree that they're needed 'somewhere else'.

I don't know exactly what "rights" people ordinarily have in this scenario. What are they? Which law grants them? That's a genuine question, by the way. I think people who believe they will be affected by a development should be heard. They know the area.. they will ask questions that deserve answers.. they can help the developers and planners improve projects for the benefit of both the pre-existing community and those who will live in what's built. But that's about it. Me buying a property doesn't, and shouldn't, give me the right to interfere with what someone does on his property down the road, or what our dear elected officials deem should be built for the next bunch of people who want to buy a property. I hate to say it but.. unless one of these proposed buildings is blocking your driveway you should just have to suck it up. If you wanted a bigger say then you should have bought the racecourse.

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Len's picture

It's pretty straightforward really - the article states as if in point of fact:

"... these land holdings were surplus to the needs of the VRC and were offloaded to Greenland Group with the expectation of large-scale development."

I simply asked the quite reasonable question whose expectation? Perhaps the author is better placed to answer that or at least advise as to the source of the information.

Otherwise you're welcome to draw whatever conclusions you like about my comments but those are your views and don't try to put words in my mouth please. An abusive tone is one thing ("here's a tip / suck it up"???) and luckily I've got a thick skin (having being in architecture & property development myself my whole career) but it is just plain disrespectful to cherry pick my comments and contort a notion of what may be my position. As it happens I am not opposed to development of these sites per se. However never did I say that development should be disallowed because local residents think it inappropriate - I have said that these residents should have a right to input and I note in fact you've agreed with me:

Your words: "I think people who believe they will be affected by a development should be heard. They know the area.. they will ask questions that deserve answers.. they can help the developers and planners improve projects for the benefit of both the pre-existing community and those who will live in what's built"

Those rights to have a say are granted by the Planning and Environment Act as a matter of fact - that is except where the Planning Minister uses his power to remove them as is being pursued in the case of 'Flemington Life'. And I'm yet to be convinced of what it is that major institutions and Govt corporations such as VRC / Greenland have to fear from so called 'NIMBY's' but in my professional experience most times neighbours can be trusted to be reasonable when treated with honesty and respect about development proposals. However in this instance VRC / Greenland have kept their plans secret for 3+ years or more then all of a sudden in the space of a few months blithely tell us they want to develop 4 towers of up to 32 storeys with podiums of up to 6 storeys at 40 dwellings per ha (and yes it's both height and density) in an area that is overwhelmingly 1 - 2 storey residential housing with and the odd recent 3 - 4 storey apartment building (which by the way the local community has generally regarded as acceptable). And their rationale for this ? - they say their need to impose this scale of development on this area apparently to fund a new Members (only) stand but without providing any community infrastructure for existing let alone the new 2000+ residential population beyond the bare minimum 5% public open space for one site only (and even that will be closed during events). So when it comes to trust who to put faith in ... local residents or the apparent luminaries of establishment Melbourne ??? - hmm pretty easy choice I reckon.

I could go on but perhaps it's better that I invite you to continue the conversation by coming along to a meeting of local residents 6:30 tomorrow night at the Moonee Valley Library in Mount Alexander Rd - just be sure to elevate the dialogue to a maturity above that of 'proposed buildings blocking driveways / buying the racecourse' (there are also barristers, lawyers, teachers, surveyors, librarians, etc involved - some pretty smart cookies who like a good debate). Otherwise maybe let's think about ceasing with commentary verging on cyber bullying, be objective and respect views of other contributors.

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theboynoodle's picture

Those rights to have a say are granted by the Planning and Environment Act as a matter of fact - that is except where the Planning Minister uses his power to remove them as is being pursued in the case of 'Flemington Life'

So it's a right to an opinion? That's not being removed by anyone, is it? Or have these guys called in the thought police?

If I may be bold, I'll assume you mean that, ordinarily, there is a right to have an opinion that is formally required to be heard and considered as part of the decision-making process. If you're so against people inferring what you mean from your posts then you need to be clearer. If it helps, I agree that such opinions should be heard.. even though I might be perfectly comfortable with them being ultimately ignored.

Is it not the case, however, that when people want their opinion heard on something like this that they invariably want it both heard and acted upon in the form of changes? Maybe big changes, maybe small ones - but it's not like people make a fuss about their right to say that a development proposal for the field next door looks absolutely lovely. Those people tend to stay quiet and, thus, are ALWAYS ignored.

I don't think anyone would disagree that the scale of this proposal is different to the scale currently existing in the area. My view is that Melbourne has a serious problem precisely because so much of it is 1-2 storey residential, and these kind of step-changes are exactly what is needed. And these are exactly the types of changes that get the NIMBY's roused up. My complaint against the planners wouldn't be about them allowing this change to happen in Flemington, it would be against them not allowing it in enough other places. Go to Forest Hill in South Yarra to see what happens when density growth is overly restricted.

I'm sorry if you feel 'cyber-bullied'. You opened the thread with an attack on the forum based on a complete misunderstanding of what the article was supposed to be. You alluded to genuine issues with how this proposal is being handled, but with nothing to back them up.. meaning you come across like a NIMBY. You've been at pains to say that you're not saying it should be disallowed, and I should not put those words in your mouth. OK. I apologise. But you'll appreciate that it's hard not to read that view into your entirely negative view of this proposal.

Thanks for the invite.. sadly I can't make it. I hope it's a good constructive debate that, at the very least, starts from the premise that those 2000 people you refer to have to live *somewhere* and it's incumbent upon those of us lucky enough to have secured our own corner of a place we like not to use all of our powers to make sure nobody else is as fortunate.

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Len's picture

I've given you an invitation to meet but if that time doesn't suit then suggest an alternative time and date I'll see what I can arrange. That way I might be able to have clarified what you just posted because it doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Otherwise please adopt the advice I previously posted. Good bye.

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Bilby's picture

Calling "NIMBY" is just a way if arguing ad hominem. There is no such category - every resident will have their own reasons for objecting to a development, if they choose to do so. Let's address the actual arguments presented, rather than just sticking a label to someone's back and sniggering as they walk away ...

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theboynoodle's picture

Calling "NIMBY" is just a way if arguing ad hominem. There is no such category - every resident will have their own reasons for objecting to a development, if they choose to do so.

I've thought about this.. and I disagree. Yes it is an ad hominem, but it is also a thing. There are lots of people who will resist development and will cite lots of reasons from the standard list of reasons but, when you finally break through it really does come down to the fact that they just don't want it in their backyard.

There are also, let's be honest, people who'll be entirely open about simply not wanting it in their backyard.

And it's often an understandable position. People tend to like the places they live, and have a rational fear of developments that might change those places - such as by adding lots of people. They may coat their objections in words about preserving the character of the area, or concerns about the traffic, or other totally concerns.. but if you boil those objections down then they really do often end up as 'don't build it here'.. aka. NIMBY.

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Len's picture

A voice of reason you are Bilby - of course NIMBY is nothing more than invective that attempts to devalue and diminish the positions of those who legitimately have a concern about development that proposes significant change. Perhaps the Bilby could be an apt analogy ... a vulnerable little Aussie battler of a marsupial that had all but made extinct by an overwhelming tide of European settlement. I find it interesting that those who apply labels like NIMBY are almost invariably doing so coming from somewhere else (in some cases half way round the world) rather than from anywhere near the area of the community to which they refer.

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theboynoodle's picture

I find it interesting that those who apply labels like NIMBY are almost invariably doing so coming from somewhere else (in some cases half way round the world) rather than from anywhere near the area of the community to which they refer.

Well if my logical fallacy is 'ad hominem', then yours is too. With a bit of 'straw man' for good measure.

I do come from far far away, but I live in Melbourne. I don't live in Flemington.. but I do live in a suburb where all the same concerns apply. Flemington isn't special. Where I live is a step or three ahead of in terms of how it has been developed... 4-6 storeys is standard, but big towers would be a big change, and a challenge to the urban heritage and our massively over-crowded tram route (amongst other things).

But if someone comes along and decides they want to build a tower or two then my response will be 'Ok, fine, how do we make this work'. At least, I hope it will.

I believe more homes should be built. I believe as many homes as possible should be built in existing and established suburbs, and shared out amongst them all. I believe that more people is a good thing.. after all, it's all the people who settled here before us that gave us the city we have. I think that if I'm challenged by a proposal in my neighborhood I'll stick by these beliefs.. and if I don't then people can call me a NIMBY because that is exactly what I'll be.

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Bilby's picture

Will you be a "whinging pom", too, Theboynoodle? That's the thing with playing the man, it descends into generalisation and dehumanisation, rather than addressing the basis of claims as either true or false or requiring further exploration. Why do "NIMBYs" get called what they do? Because the advocates of development and "urban renewal" all too often don't know how to respond with any level of subtlety to the issues raised by the very communities confronted with wholesale change to their neighbourhoods. The title of Jane Jacob's famous 1958 essay "Downtown is for People" sums it up, really. We need to think about who cities are actually for - i.e. the residents. Trampling over residents' concerns as if they are the problem getting in the way of the perfect urban expression is, frankly, backward.

No one disagrees that there should be limits on the kind of development that can take place in neighbourhoods, so in that sense, we are all NIMBYs, just as all religious people are atheists when it comes to the gods of other religions. The more interesting question to ask ourselves is, what would and wouldn't we want to see built in a particular setting and why? Anything else is just avoiding the cut and thrust of the civic debate we need to have.

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