Adjournment: Preston market

18 May 2023

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This adjournment matter was for the Minister for Planning, and requested that she responded to community pleas for Preston Market to be publicly acquired, and saved from demolition. 


My adjournment matter tonight is for the Minister for Planning, and the action I seek is that she formally responds to the Darebin community’s request for Preston Market to be publicly acquired. Preston Market has been a much-loved local landmark since it was built in 1970. The people’s market, as it is known, is an important community hub that provides locals with access to fresh food and community connections. But the market has been under threat from its current owners, property developers Salta Properties, who are seeking to demolish most of the market and replace it with apartments.

Last month the Victorian Planning Authority Projects Standing Advisory Committee released its report on the future of the Preston Market precinct. It recommended that more be done to recognise and protect the character of the market, including its heritage status, and that a much more substantial proportion of the market be retained. In response, the government announced that a heritage overlay would be applied to the market to retain a significant portion of the existing market and protect its heritage value. Understandably, the Darebin community, who have been fighting to save the market for years, view the standing advisory committee recommendations with some scepticism. They and I still hold serious concerns about the shape of the development and what it will mean for the market’s future. The standing advisory committee missed an opportunity to push for much more public and affordable housing and nation-leading environmental sustainability at this site, instead agreeing that that up to – not a minimum of but up to – 10 per cent of affordable housing on the site was sufficient. In a housing crisis, when we desperately need more public and affordable housing in central locations close to public services, not pushing for more mandatory affordable housing at the Preston Market precinct is incredibly short-sighted. While the government has indicated that a significant proportion of the market will be retained, it is unclear as to what this will actually mean. Given that so far the government has been more interested in progressing the redevelopment, the community has understandably lost confidence that the planning framework will deliver fair outcomes.

The stall operators and the community stand to be the biggest losers in all of this. Salta has demonstrated little regard for the welfare of stallholders and the interests of the community. Even after the standing advisory committee report was tabled and the government indicated their support for protection of more of the market, fliers were being handed out that seemed to threaten stallholders with an early shutdown of the market. This has been intimidating and stressful for stallholders and the community.

While we now have the standing advisory committee report, they are just recommendations.

The ultimate decision about the market’s redevelopment remains with the government. The community has put forward an alternative to private development: that it is brought into public hands through a compulsory public acquisition. They argue the markets are an important public space and public service and that other local markets like the Queen Victoria Market are publicly owned and managed. We need community spaces like Preston Market now more than ever.

We cannot let short-sighted planning turn the market into a developers paradise that makes them squillions of dollars and leaves the community socially and economically poorer. The community is seeking a response from the government to their alternative plan. I ask the minister to formally respond to the Darebin community’s request for public acquisition of the Preston Market.

This adjournment was delivered on 17th May, 2023.

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