Following questions and concerns from the community regarding the historic grandstand at the Wodonga racecourse, Wodonga Mayor Cr Ron Mildren has issued a statement in response to some of the issues raised.
While the council has responsibility for the processing of the application for a planning permit to demolish the building, there are several other agencies which have a role in the wider decision-making process.
The Department of Energy, Environmment and Climate Action (formerly DELWP) is the land holder of the grandstand and as such has the ultimate authority over the grandstand.
The council is the committee of management for the Crown land on the site and is responsible for everyday activities in partnership with Racing Wodonga.
A planning permit application was made to council by Racing Wodonga to demolish the grandstand. As it is within a heritage overlay, it triggered the requirement for a planning permit.
The application went on public exhibition in September. Only two submissions were received and in accordance with delegated authority, the matter was dealt with by planning officers.
The decision to refuse the demolition was made on November 30, in accordance with the recommendation of an independent heritage consultant.
The application was refused because it did not comply with the council’s Municipal Planning Strategy and because the demolition would have an immediate and irreversible impact on the heritage significance of the site.
Any demolition of the structure would also need the approval of the land owner, being the Department of Energy, Environmment and Climate Action (DEECA), which has remained silent on the matter to date. Racing Wodonga has been encouraged to engage directly with DEECA.
The council has approved an allocation of $1.5 million in the budget across 2022-2023 and 2024-2025 for the refurbishment of the grandstand. The detail of that refurbishment is yet to be determined.
The council has engaged independent structural and heritage consultants to assist with the tender brief for the remedial works for the proposed improvements to the grandstand.
Tenders for various works packages will begin to be advertised early in 2023 with initial underground investigative works being undertaken to better inform services and structural remediation.
As with any planning decision, Racing Wodonga has a time period of 60 days from the date of the refusal in which to appeal the council’s decision at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.