Canberra Racing Club is finalising initial redevelopment plans for Thoroughbred Park in Lyneham that could include three to six-storey apartment blocks, a commercial precinct, new stables and training facilities on the track infield and refreshed facilities for racegoers.
The club says the long-term project would deliver 3200 dwellings on the light rail corridor, generate $1 billion in economic activity and more than 2,000 jobs.
It is preparing to take the plans, which are the product of several years’ work, to community consultation next month.
Canberra Racing Club chief executive Andrew Clark said the plans were vital to the club’s ongoing viability, particularly after a year in which COVID-19 restrictions have eaten into its revenue, especially the hospitality trade.
”It’s been a challenging time, but we’re pressing on,” he said. “We’ve been able to race all the way through COVID, which is important to generate the revenue that allows the 440 employees to earn an income.”
He said underutilised land at Thoroughbred Park and the advent of light rail provided the impetus for residential development.
”Light rail is absolutely critical to the project. We’ve got two stops nearby, so it’s important we play our part in assisting with the light rail objectives,” he said.
”We’re ideally suited. We’re close to the city, we’re on two light rail stops, and we believe there are positives that can come out of this project.”
The commercial precinct could also accommodate a hotel and retirement facilities.
Mr Clark said the club wanted to create a mixed-use precinct that complemented on-course activities, capitalising on returning and enhancing the race-day experience for patrons and ensuring the club’s financial sustainability.
He said the centre of racecourses was often underutilised in Australia so the club was looking to emulate development like that at Eagle Farm in Brisbane, where stabling has been moved to the infield.
Building new stabling and training facilities would also improve horse welfare and training outcomes, Mr Clark said.
Mr Clark said the project would not be developed in isolation, but be part of a whole of precinct approach, with nearby Exhibition Park, Yowani Country Club and Kamberra Function Centre all having redevelopment plans.
He said the project had a 12 to 15-year horizon and would require a variation of the Territory Plan variation, a two-year process in itself.
The club would seek to change part of the Thoroughbred Park’s zoning from NUZ1 for broadacre usage to CZ5 (commercial) and RZ5 (high-density residential).
Mr Clark stressed that the project details, such as building heights, were not set in stone and that the club would take on board what the community had to say.
Members have been able to sight the plans, but they are being refined further for the beginning of a three-month community consultation period in February.