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Adjournment: Preston Market Development

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Samantha Ratnam
Leader of the Victorian Greens
24 March 2022

My adjournment is for the Minister for Planning.

I welcome the minister’s referral of the revised Victorian Planning Authority’s (VPA) Preston Market precinct structure plan to the standing advisory committee (SAC), including seeking advice on planning mechanisms to support the vibrancy of the market and secure its long-term operation with regard to its social and cultural significance and its association to multicultural and migrant communities.

While some of the changes in the scope of the project as reflected in revised plans of this much-loved community space are welcome and respond to the significant community concern about the overdevelopment of this site, including overshadowing and lack of public open space, I note that the community and council remain concerned that there are insufficient protections for the market to remain an affordable, open-air, culturally diverse, fresh food community hub and uncertainty about how traders will be supported through the redevelopment process. I very much hope that the need for a section 173 agreement to protect the market will be a priority for the minister in this next stage of the planning process.

That aside, I am concerned about a number of other aspects of the referral.

Firstly, together with Darebin council and community members, I am concerned about the proposed time line for the consultation in relation to this very significant project for the Darebin community, which has been condensed thanks to your requested reporting date of 7 July 2022.

The initial VPA consultation had a record number of submissions from 386 people and a revised VPA SAC process should also respect and reflect this significant community interest by providing for an extended period of time to hear from people, not be a shorter process than others.

Residents who might work full time and live busy lives have been given a little over a week to review the revised plans and decide whether they want to be heard at the hearings, and just over three weeks in total before hearings start.

This is also a very short time frame for council to consult with the community and prepare to be heard.

This is not a fair and reasonable time line for the community consultation process.

Secondly, that the referral omitted some very important considerations for the precinct.

Namely, no advice is being sought on targets for affordable housing for this large-scale development, and on how we ensure the apartments are livable and appropriate for the needs of the community.

Thirdly, no advice is being sought on whether the precinct meets our long-term sustainability requirements, including electric vehicle charging stations, green waste management, solar farms, big batteries, ensuring buildings are fully electric, and other measures to meet our zero net emissions target for the state, for example.

So the action I am seeking of the minister is that you revise your reporting deadline and the referral to include these very important considerations.

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Samantha Ratnam
Leader of the Victorian Greens
24 March 2022
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