Greyhounds seek relocation

MEMBERS of the public will get the chance to have their say on the relocation of the Sale Greyhound Racing Club.

With its current site deemed unsuitable for a track upgrade, the club is seeking to relocate only metres up Maffra-Sale Rd.

Wellington Shire Council will tomorrow consider releasing a strategic justification prepared by the club as it applies for a planning scheme amendment and planning permit.

The strategic justification is required by the proposal goes against council’s long term plan for Sale as the land is question has been earmarked by council for future residential development.

In October last year the club submitted a request to rezone and subdivide land at 44-50 Maffra-Sale Rd and 8 Grassdale Rd, immediately west of the rail line, the land diagonally opposite across the rail line from the club’s current site on the Sale Showgrounds.

The proposal is not consistent with council’s Sale, Wurruk and Longford Structure Plan, which was introduced into the Wellington Planning Scheme in November last year.

The 17 hectares of land for the proposed complex is partly zoned residential one and farming.

The club is proposing to change it to a special use zone and to re-subdivide it to align with the proposal boundary.

The special use zoning, drafted specifically for the proposed facility, would allow for the land to be used for racing and related uses, to facilitate a range of entertainment pursuits, ensure its uses and hours of operations don’t prejudice the amenity of surrounding areas, and ensure the land is fully integrated with surrounding existing and proposed future residential areas, including suitable landscaping.

The club’s strategic justification claims the proposal will result in a state-of-the-art greyhound racing and multi-use hospitality venue, including bar, bistro, caf , gaming lounge and function rooms. The site could also include an accommodation complex.

The proposal includes a drainage retarding basin to accommodate onsite requirements and potentially assist with inherent downstream drainage issues experienced around north Sale.

The club claimed the shape of its current site was not ideal for the track.

“As a result of the site’s constraints there is a sharp bend in the existing track which deters many greyhound breeders and racers from competing in events at Sale, despite the fact that a significant proportion of leading greyhounds are bred in Gippsland,” the club’s submission reads.

“Club evidence suggests that many local trainers will not race top performing dogs at their home track in fear of injury resulting from the constraints of the existing track.”

With it required to replace the current track and kennels by 2016, the club felt relocation was the best option.

“The proposed relocation will cement the Sale Greyhound Racing Club’s role as the regional headquarters for greyhound racing in eastern Victoria, with a purpose-built, world class facility and builds on their existing excellent reputation,” according to the strategic justification.

“In terms of delivering the strategic vision set out by the Sale, Wurruk and Longford Structure Plan, the relocation presents council with an opportunity to achieve greater outcome for the Wellington economy than what the structure plan currently provides for.”

With the venue needing main road access and to be close to town and other services and not occupy irrigated farmland, the club said it was important the complex be within the existing town boundary.

“Opportunity exists across the remaining residential land within the Sale township boundary to reclaim potential residential land through an integrated approach to structure planning to infill and greenfield sites,” it is written in the strategic justification.

Even after council receives submissions into the strategic justification, the proposal will still need to go through a full application process, which will involve a panel of independent planning experts.

The club aims to begin work soon after the land is rezoned, and intends for the new complex to be operational by the end of 2017.

If the club moves, the current site will return to its owner, the Sale and District Agricultural Society.

Tomorrow’s Wellington Shire Council meeting will begin at 1pm.