Save The Preston Market Action Group organised a picnic and public consultation outside Darebin Town Hall on February 26 as part of its campaign to save one of Melbourne’s oldest outdoor markets.
The Victorian government wants to demolish 80% of the historic market to build high-rise rental accommodation. Its redevelopment proposal only dedicates 20% to retail outlets. This will mean the end of affordable food and other retail outlets, which will badly impact the elderly, unemployed and non-English speakers.
Community opposition to the proposal is mounting, not only in Darebin and Cooper but in Moreland, Banyule and the federal seat of Wills. Locals are demanding the Victorian Planning Authority dump the idea.
Darebin Mayor Lina Messina told the rally that if the resources could be found, public acquisition would be “a great solution”. “If the soul is ripped out of the market, it can’t be replaced and those long-established links between community, traders and small businesses are forever gone,” she said.
Felix Dance, running for the Senate for Socialist Alliance in Victoria, told Green Left it’s great to see so much energy from those who use these markets every week. “Wherever there is money to be made from land used by the community, big developers push local concerns aside,” Dance said. “The community is right to fight the big developers for their local markets.”
Organisers have vowed to not stop fighting. A Darebin council-led petition has gathered more than 11,300 signatures and public submissions are still coming in.
[Get in touch with Save the Preston Market Action group if you can help out.]