Preston Market Strategic Site

Preston Market Planning Controls and Structure Planning

The Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) is the Planning Authority to review the planning controls and deliver a structure plan for Preston Market. The Preston Market project has been identified as a project on the VPA’s Fast Track Program.

The VPA has undertaken three phases of community consultation to seek the views of the community in preparing the future plan for the Preston Market precinct.

The VPA are continuing to prepare a draft structure plan for public consultation. Final public consultation is anticipated to commence after the October 2020 Local Government elections.

The VPA will be ensuring greater resources and prioritisation of the project to ensure finalisation occurs in a timely manner.

The precinct takes in 5.1  hectares of privately-owned land generally bounded by Murray Road in the north, Cramer Street to the south, the rear of the High Street buildings to the east and St Georges Road to the west. The precinct includes Preston Market and is next door to Preston train station.

Melbourne’s overarching planning strategy, Plan Melbourne 2017-2050, includes the precinct within the Preston-High Street Major Activity Centre. The precinct will accommodate new homes, jobs and infrastructure.

Planning the precinct is vital because, like many areas throughout Melbourne, Preston is facing transformational growth, with the population forecast to double in size to 68,000 people by 2041.

Good planning can ensure that this growth is accommodated in a sustainable way that brings new amenities, community infrastructure and open space.

Three phases of wide-ranging community engagement for the project were undertaken over 2018/19 about priorities for the precinct’s future.

Preston Market Precinct Phase 3 Engagement

You can read the outcomes of the Engagement Report- July 2019 (PDF) here.

This round of community engagement was undertaken with Darebin City Council and shared a number of scenarios with the community, as well as inviting feedback on key issues such as market character, open space, getting around and community benefit. This process was held over four weeks in May and June 2019. It included:

  • an online survey
  • stakeholder meetings
  • pop-ups in the market
  • a display and discuss session
  • small group discussions
  • three deliberative workshops
    • with a randomly selected group that was representative of the Darebin community.

The feedback received built upon the great information gathered from the previous phases of engagement. The people we engaged with said they want the Preston Market Precinct to be a place:

  • that safeguards and builds on the market’s unique character
  • with green, open spaces
  • that is pedestrian and cyclist-friendly
  • embraces strong sustainability principles.

There were also a diversity of views on:

  • what building heights would be appropriate, and
  • how much car parking there should be and where it should be located.

During the various phases of engagement, we also heard there are matters important to the community in addition to those that can be dealt with through traditional planning controls, including aspects of how the market is managed. So we will be working alongside Council and the landowner to develop other requirements that capture those important elements.

A summary of the first two stages of engagement and associated documents can be found at the bottom of the page. Under ‘Supporting Documents’ and the ‘Community Engagement’ tab.

There will be further opportunity to comment on the structure plan as it is developed.

Wide-ranging community engagement for the project was undertaken throughout 2018, with a number of activities sparking meaningful discussions about priorities for the precinct’s future.

As a result of this engagement, five guiding principles for the future of the precinct were created in consultation with a Community Reference Group:

  • A thriving fresh food market
  • A diversity of land uses and vibrant amenity
  • Culturally diverse character and adaptable community spaces
  • Sustainable, liveable and accessible precinct
  • Flexible and efficient car parking and access.

The third phase of engagement concluded in June 2019.  This was an opportunity for members of the community to understand what land-use scenarios are being considered and help the VPA and City of Darebin progress the preparation of draft structure plan for the precinct.

The Preston Market site

The map below outlines the boundary of the Preston Market precinct, including the existing market building, building proposals approved by VCAT in 2017 and other key features. The Minister for Planning recently extended the VPA’s project area to include the area west to St George’s Road. This will allow the area to be planned in a more coordinated manner.

To download a copy of the Site Location – Preston Market Urban Renewal Site, simply click anywhere on the image.

Background information

The Victorian Planning Authority (VPA) is an independent statutory authority that reports to the Victorian Minister for Planning and acts as the state’s strategic planner.

The VPA is responsible for delivering a number of planning projects, including the review of planning controls for the Preston market site.

The Victorian Planning Authority is leading the review of the planning controls for the Preston Market while partnering with the City of Darebin.

The Preston Market site is currently located within the Priority Development Zone, Schedule 1.

The Preston Market Incorporated Plan, May 2007 provides the basis for all planning decisions.

Key elements of the existing Preston Market Incorporated Plan include:

  • A 10 storey preferred height limit over most of the site, four storeys at street frontage and single storey preferred at the intersection of Mary Street and Centreway;
  • Enhancement of the traditional retailing style, openness, informality and ambience that is associated with the existing fresh food market;
  • Mixed commercial land uses at ground level with high density residential development above, including provision for affordable housing;
  • Two focal points within the market;
  • A multi modal transport interchange; Open space at the train station;
  • Support of active transport, particularly safe and well located pedestrian thoroughfares and connections;
  • Office, leisure and entertainment uses at the upper levels of development only, except in Murray Street, Cramer Street and Station Avenue.

Land within the Preston Market site is predominately owned and operated by Preston Markets Development Pty Ltd, which is a privately owned company. There are additional owners for land on the site of the market who will also be engaged in the process.

On 31 July 2017, the Minister for Planning, the Hon. Richard Wynne MP, requested that the VPA partner with Darebin Council to review the current planning controls that apply across the Preston Market site.

As part of this review, the VPA and Darebin City Council undertook extensive community engagement activities to understand the community’s views about the site and create a set of guiding principles to underpin the creation of new planning controls.

The VPA compared the current controls to key Victorian Government and Darebin City Council planning strategies for the site to ensure the market remained successful for future generations and the site achieved its potential as a vibrant activity centre.

There is currently planning approval for two 10-storey buildings and one 14-storey building to be constructed along the Murray Road edge of the precinct. Temporary planning controls currently restrict other development on the site.

Project information

Melbourne’s major planning strategy, Plan Melbourne 2017-2050, designates Preston as a Major Activity Centre, which means that it has to continue to grow and evolve to accommodate increasing demands for housing and jobs in this area. Preston, like other inner suburbs across Melbourne, is growing at a very fast rate and planning controls help to ensure new homes, shops and businesses are accommodated in a liveable and sustainable way.

The Preston Market is a strategic development site due to its close proximity to public transport, the High Street shops, services, employment opportunities and Preston Oval. The structure plan will provide increased certainty around the development of this important area.

The plan will also provide increased certainty about the ongoing operation of the market, the quality of development, environmental outcomes, a range of housing types, including housing for people on low and moderate incomes, community facilities and accessible open space.

A Structure Plan will also support better planning of infrastructure, such as transport and community assets, to support the increasing population in the local area.

The Structure Plan will address a number of issues related to the market, including setting objectives around its ongoing operation, requirements for any market buildings and communal spaces. The plan cannot control how the market is run because it is privately owned and operated.

In addition to having a fresh food market, the precinct will also allow for commercial and retail buildings, housing, including affordable housing, entertainment, open space and community uses. Improved pedestrian and cyclist access to the site and better connections to local roads and the High Street shops will also be determined under the Structure Plan.

The development of the precinct will deliver a number of benefits to the local community. This includes a better range of housing choices, new jobs, offices and shops, and new community facilities and spaces. Some community benefits, such as community facilities, may be funded through the development of the precinct but delivered in other parts of the local area. We will be engaging with the community about what benefits are of most importance to them so that we get them right.

The Structure Plan will detail how pedestrians, bikes, cars, and trucks access and get around different sections of the precinct and how the precinct will be connected to other parts of the local area. Separating people from cars and trucks will help to improve access and safety for commuters and pedestrians to the High Street shops.

We will be working closely with the Level Crossing Removal Project to ensure that these projects are well integrated.

The Structure Plan will guide the development that can take place within the precinct for many years to come. At this stage, we do not expect the plan to come into effect before the end of 2020. Any development applications that are lodged after that time will need to go through an assessment process, which may also take some time. The preparing of development plans and the timing of their lodgement will be determined by the landowner.

Next steps

The VPA and City of Darebin will now prepare new planning controls for the site, while continuing engagement with multiple stakeholders and community members. The new planning controls will undergo a planning scheme amendment process, to be incorporated into the Darebin Planning Scheme.

How will the community and local businesses be affected?

The Structure Plan will identify the parts of the precinct that will allow for commercial developments, such as office spaces. The precinct will be designed to provide opportunities for a range of businesses to operate, including small businesses.

Community engagement

The overall findings from the engagement activities are summarised below:

  • The community highly values Preston Market for their weekly shopping, and would like this function to continue.
  • The community would like to retain the current essence of the market, particularly the fresh food products, diversity of stalls and small traders.
  • There is potential to incorporate more open spaces and meeting spaces on the site, as well as more market events.
  • The community would like the market to retain its open and airy feel.
  • The community would like fresh food to remain at the core of the site, with opportunities for more activities such as the arts and live music performances.

The participants value the market as an inclusive and welcoming place where they can connect to their community.

You can read the community engagement reports below:

Phase 1 community engagement findings (Capire, Apil 2018)
Phase 2 community engagement findings (Capire, September 2018)
Community Reference Group Report (Capire, September 2018)

Throughout 2018, the VPA and City of Darebin run an extensive community engagement process for the planning for Preston Market.

The first phase ran from Monday 12 February and concluded on Friday 20 April. Following this, more community engagement run from Monday 9 July and concluded on Friday 3 August.

A community reference group was also established and met numerous times within these dates. You can read more about the CRG here.

Overall, the community engagement included:

  • Four meetings with a Community Reference Group
  • Five trader meetings
  • Translated interviews with  the traders
  • An online survey
  • Two public drop-in sessions
  • Numerous stakeholder/trader meetings
  • Regular pop-up market stalls.

You can read the outcomes of each community engagement phase below:

Phase 1 community engagement findings (Capire, Apil 2018)
Phase 2 community engagement findings (Capire, September 2018)
Community Reference Group Report (Capire, September 2018)

The third phase of engagement concluded on 13 June 2019.  This was an opportunity for members of the community to understand what land-use scenarios are being considered and help the VPA and City of Darebin progress the preparation of draft structure plan for the precinct.


The Community Reference Group was comprised of 27 members of the Preston community with an interest in the future of Preston Market. The group attended four meetings, where they learned about planning for the site, discussed their aspirations for the site’s future and heard from technical experts.

You can read the Community Reference Group report below:

Community Reference Group Report (Capire, September 2018)


Housing is definitely one of the land uses being explored for the site. The intention is to encourage a variety of housing types for a range of households, including some affordable housing.

Recently, the Minister for Planning provided guidance to give direction to relevant stakeholders in navigating their way towards a successful affordable housing agreement. The VPA will explore opportunities for entering into a voluntary agreement with the relevant stakeholders and provide mechanisms to support increased levels of affordable housing.

Yes, the Structure Plan will encourage a broad range of housing in the precinct, including a requirement that some is affordable to those on low and moderate incomes. The type and quantity of affordable housing is still being determined.

Further questions asked by the community

The planning intent is to support the ongoing operation of a ‘fresh food’ market by setting planning policies that will enable landowner(s) to maintain and enhance the viability, vibrancy and distinctiveness of the market.


Planning can control the land use and built form of an area where controls apply, and planning can influence infrastructure coordination. However, the application of planning controls will only be applied to planning applications for new uses and development.

All new land uses and development requiring a planning permit must meet the requirements of the planning scheme and the conditions of any future planning permit that may be granted. When considering planning applications the Responsible Authority should also consider seriously entertained planning scheme amendments.

Planning controls can address issues such as built form, traffic management and waste.  However planning controls have limited scope to regulate operational matters or continuation of use.

For clarity, it is noted that planning does not:

  • Deliver buildings and works – Planning approves future buildings and works and then it is up to the permit holder to carry out the works. Planning provides parameters for what can occur on the site but cannot demand that this occur.
  • Address commercial matters such as management of a market, leasing agreements, pricing.

All landowners have been contacted as part of our engagement process. Positive contributions to the engagement process have been made by all landowners, with a commitment to continue their involvement.

Discussions with the landowners are seeking to maximise the opportunities for public benefit and desired community outcomes to be gained through any development that occurs on the site.

Technical studies are underway to identify the current infrastructure capacity and future needs of the precinct, which will be reflected in the structure plan. Infrastructure will be delivered when the precinct is developed.

Darebin is experiencing significant population growth and it is vital we plan for new jobs, homes and infrastructure in the area to allow people to work locally and live sustainably. The precinct’s close proximity to public transport, size and location make it well suited to accommodate this growth.

No, planning controls are unable to force the owners of the land to operate a market or specify how the market is operated. The future controls will set objectives around the redevelopment and operation of the market into the future.

Darebin City Council is responsible for assessing development applications within the municipality, including applications for developments within the precinct. Once development plans are received, Council has the task of assessing whether they meet the objectives and requirements that are set out in the Planning Controls, including the structure plan.

Heritage Victoria recommendation

Heritage Victoria and the Victorian Heritage Council have both recommended the market does not have state heritage significance and that it not be included in the Victorian Heritage Register.

The Heritage Council of Victoria panel that made this recommendation referred its submissions to the VPA for consideration for an amendment to the Darebin Planning Scheme.

The Heritage Council panel asked the VPA to look further at the submissions it received requesting protection for the market and to consider whether local heritage controls might be appropriate. The heritage of the market including the recommendations of the Heritage Council will be a consideration in the preparation of the planning scheme amendment for a structure plan by the VPA. The VPA will continue to consult with council and community as the structure plan is developed.

VPA has commissioned heritage advice including reviewing submissions to the Heritage Council and is considering how planning controls should reflect the market’s local heritage values (the cultural heritage and the building fabric).

The most important objective is to secure the future of the market’s operation. Heritage is a key matter in achieving this goal, along with ensuring that the wider precinct is a vibrant and welcoming place with sustainable design, affordable and diverse housing, jobs, places to meet family and friends, quality open spaces, car parking, and better walking and cycling connections.

Preston Market heritage report

The Executive Director of Heritage Victoria has today released a recommendation about whether the Preston […]

Supporting Documentation

Preston Market Planning Review (VPA) - October 2018
Preston Market Planning Review (VPA) - October 2018 PDF  Version
Remit of the Community Reference Group
Remit of the Community Reference Group PDF  Version
CRG meeting 1 summary notes
CRG meeting 1 summary notes PDF  Version
Architectus urban design presentation to CRG 2
Architectus urban design presentation to CRG 2 PDF  Version
Capire presentation to CRG meeting 1
Capire presentation to CRG meeting 1 PDF  Version
Cardno presentation to CRG meeting 2
Cardno presentation to CRG meeting 2 PDF  Version
City of Darebin presentation to CRG 2
City of Darebin presentation to CRG 2 PDF  Version
CRG meeting 2 summary notes
CRG meeting 2 summary notes PDF  Version
CRG meeting 3 summary notes
CRG meeting 3 summary notes PDF  Version
CRG meeting 4 summary notes
CRG meeting 4 summary notes PDF  Version
Community Reference Group Report (Capire) - September 2018
Community Reference Group Report (Capire) - September 2018 PDF  Version
Preston Market Review Phase One Engagement Findings
Preston Market Review Phase One Engagement Findings PDF  Version
Phase 2 Engagement Findings report (Capire) - September 2018
Phase 2 Engagement Findings report (Capire) - September 2018 PDF  Version
Community Reference Group Report (Capire) - September 2018
Community Reference Group Report (Capire) - September 2018 PDF  Version
Preston Market - Community Engagement Display Boards - May 2019
Preston Market - Community Engagement Display Boards - May 2019 PDF  Version
Preston Market Precinct Phase 3 - Engagement Report - July 2019
Preston Market Precinct Phase 3 - Engagement Report - July 2019 PDF  Version