Sandown flood loggerheads

Ian Peterson in his backyard, next to the birdbath that was nearly topped by floodwaters. 413795_06

by Cam Lucadou-Wells

Greater Dandenong Council and Melbourne Racing Club are at odds over projected flood impacts at a proposed re-development at Sandown Racecourse.

On 11 June, councillors endorsed a submission that was critical of the C229 rezoning for 7500 homes on the 112-hectare site.

Speaking on the council report, strategic planning manager Brett Jackson noted that authorities Melbourne Water and South East Water shared “significant concerns” about flooding, stormwater storage and drainage from Mile Creek and Police Road Main Drain.

“Officers consider there is a significant lack of information in the documentation regarding flooding impacts and flood management on the site,” the report stated.

“Officers are concerned that if (Planning Scheme Amendment) C229 is approved, and at a later date it eventuates that stormwater cannot be effectively managed on site, what the implications of this will be for surrounding existing residents, new residents within the Sandown development, and Council.”

A Melbourne Racing Club spokesperson said the MRC did not agree with the council’s flood concerns.

“We acknowledge that the council has their views. We don’t share their views relating to the flood risk.

“The matter will be fully considered as part of the Sandown Racecourse Advisory Committee process.”

Planning consultant Urbis, on behalf of the MRC, in a submission to the committee, stated that there were “differing views” from two flood assessments.

One of the reports had found no increase in downstream flooding, Urbis submitted.

“Consequently, we consider that Melbourne Water has had sufficient input into the modelling approach and the flood study is appropriate for the purpose of exhibition.”

Noble Park resident Ian Peterson, who lives about 50 metres south of the racecourse, told Star Journal that he’d suffered floods twice in recent years.

On each occasion, Mile Creek overflow has breached a channel to the south and flooded inside his home and others on Alamein Street as well as the intersection with Corrigan Road. Water has spilled under his back door, which is about a metre above ground level.

“No one here could stop it coming in. I had my furniture up on blocks and I’ve had to have my carpet replaced.”

Alarmed by the council report, he fears the flood and traffic impacts of a Sandown housing estate and proposes a barrier to protect his neighbourhood.

A flood study cited by Melbourne Water suggested properties would be “significantly impacted” in the case of a flood event similar to February 2011.

“Melbourne Water has asked for changes to the developer’s proposed Drainage and Flood Management Strategy to ensure that new developments don’t negatively impact neighbouring or downstream properties,” a spokesperson told Star Journal last month.

“Before endorsing development plans, the proponent must submit specified reports for assessment, and provide details of proposed drainage works to Melbourne Water for approval.”

A South East Water spokesperson deferred to Melbourne Water as the “relevant authority of floodplain management matters”.

The Greater Dandenong Council draft submission stated Sandown is “one of the largest urban renewal sites in Melbourne” with potential for “significant benefit if planned and implemented correctly”.

It would assist in the housing crisis and potentially limit higher-density development in other parts of Greater Dandenong, the report stated.

The MRC plan includes 20,000 square metres of commercial space for offices, dining and retail and more than 20 hectares of public space including open space, a school and community facilities.

The heritage-listed grandstand would be retained.

The Planning Minister-appointed Sandown Racecourse Advisory Committee is assessing the proposed rezoning.

The public exhibition period for C229 closes on 24 June, followed by a advisory committee directions hearing on 17 July and hearings from 12 August.