Preston Market Strategic Site

Preston Market Planning Controls Review

The VPA is partnering with the City of Darebin to undertake a review of the current planning controls and plan for the Preston Market site. This review will be informed by community and stakeholder feedback.

The review will be undertaken over three phases to create a community vision, explore planning opportunities and produce final recommendations.

Preston Market is located in the heart of Preston and is a loved local destination for people to buy their groceries and meet socially. The community and stakeholder engagement will seek to understand what people love about the market, what makes it unique and the opportunities for change to ensure it continues to be an attractive destination.

The community engagement will also involve discussions to explore future outcomes for the site, including new higher density housing, open space, community facilities, retail and a fresh food market.

You can read the findings from the first phase of engagement in the report here.

The Preston Market site

The map below outlines the boundary of the Preston Market site, including the existing market building, the buildings approved by VCAT in 2017 and other key features.

To download a copy, 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.

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

A key objective of the review is to support the operation of the market, encouraging development to enhance the social significance and character of the market.

The review will provide a unique opportunity to support a more inclusive, accessible and vibrant hub of activity for existing and new residents, workers and visitors.

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.

Project Information

The subject site is approximately 4.6 hectares, bounded by Murray Road in the north, Cramer Street to the south, the rear of the High Street buildings to the east and the Preston Station car park to the west.

The review is committed to supporting both the operation of a fresh food market as an important social asset in the community and implementing local and state planning policy.

This includes:

  • facilitating higher density and mixed-use development to complement the operation of the market and create opportunities for housing close to jobs and services
  • supporting the creation of healthy and safe 20-minute neighbourhoods
  • achieving design excellence, particularly in reducing the environmental footprint of development (i.e. integrated water management, waste reduction, energy efficiency, etc)
  • supporting the delivery of social infrastructure to support growth (inc. affordable housing option)
  • promoting sustainable transport options through good urban design and provision of relevant facilities
  • many more local and state government policy outcomes.

The review will seek to incorporate planning controls that can support the ongoing viability of the market while still allowing change to occur on the site.

Transport is an important issue for the site and a technical report is being prepared to help inform the review.

The review will not affect the planning permits that have already been issued for the site.  However, future planning permit applications will be required to be assessed against the new planning controls, once incorporated into the planning scheme.

The review of the current planning controls for the Preston Market site won’t change the day-to-day operations of the market.

While you may notice VPA and council staff at the market talking to people, the opening hours and availability of produce will not be affected.

For more information on the operation of the Preston Market, please see

Community Engagement

There will be an inclusive engagement process occurring over three phases that will inform the project as it develops. The purpose of each phase is to:

  • Phase 1 of the project is seeking to understand community views and values to inform the development of a community vision for the Preston Market.
  • Phase 2 will explore potential opportunities.
  • Phase 3 will involve targeted consultation to help the project team form recommendations.

Each phase of the engagement process will provide multiple opportunities for community and stakeholders to learn about the project, its progress and share their views.

You can read the findings from the first phase of engagement below:

Preston Market Review – Phase One Engagement Findings

There will be a range of ways to share your views through events at the market and drop-in sessions. We encourage you to subscribe to updates to keep in touch with the project about key timeframes and events.

For Phase 2 of engagement, a community reference group has been formed to provide input into a review of the planning controls and future opportunities for the site. The group will represent the community views on the ideas to be considered as part of the project.

You can learn more about the remit and purpose of the group here.

The wider community will also be invited to contribute to the review, by participating in market stands, online engagement and a public workshop.

Further questions asked by the community

The current temporary planning controls for the market consists of zoning controls and the ‘Preston Market Incorporated Plan’. The plan encourages retention of the existing fresh food market, new high density housing, a plaza area outside the Preston station, a further two plaza areas in Mary Street and other retail areas.

The current preferred building heights, which are under review, are 10 storeys for most of the site, 8 storeys for a limited area of the site and single storey for a small portion.

The zone allows for planning applications that are consistent with the incorporated plan to be exempt from public notifications and permit decisions cannot be appealed by objectors.

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.

The engagement the VPA is undertaking in partnership with Council has highlighted that the market has multiple values for the community including, but broader than, built form, land use and infrastructure and extending to matters such as tenancy mix, hours of operation, public access over private land, parking management and other matters.

In this context, it is clear that planning controls will need to be supplemented by other measures if we are to achieve the best result for the community.

The VPA is seeking to work with Council and all stakeholders to move forward on a broad-based platform to protect the market and its community values.

The social and cultural significance of the market is recognised by all stakeholders. However, a heritage overlay cannot ensure a current land use continues into the future and will therefore not ensure that the market continues to operate on the site.

Heritage overlays are part of local council planning schemes and include places of local significance as well as places of state significance included in the Victorian Heritage Register.

The heritage process leading to the identification of a heritage place needs to clearly justify the significance of the place as a basis for its inclusion in the heritage overlay.

Heritage overlays require a planning permit to, demolish an existing building; and/or, to construct a building and construct or carry out buildings and works including alterations. Before a permit can be granted, Councils must consider whether the demolition of the building; or alterations to the existing building; or replacement building, will lessen the significance of the heritage place.

Most of the market site is owned by one owner. However there are also other smaller land owners.

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.

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.

Timelines were extended to allow more comprehensive engagement with the community, in consultation with Darebin Council.

Specifically, the timelines were extended to increase the amount of open dialogue that is to be undertaken with both organised community groups and individual community members not ordinarily engaged in the planning process.

The CRG will participate in a series of exploratory workshops to prepare a ‘vision’ and understand the constraints and opportunities for the site.

The CRG will engage in discussions to explore future outcomes for the site and provide suggestions about the future planning and design of the Preston Market site. The VPA will consider these outcomes alongside the broader community engagement and technical inputs in preparing their recommendation for future planning controls.

The CRG will produce a final report, which will summarise their feedback to inform recommendations about the planning controls for the site. This report will be provided to the Minister unedited alongside VPA’s recommendations.

The CRG will deliver a ‘Vision’ for the market together with principles and priorities to inform the review of planning controls for the site.

Once the CRG has developed its principles and priorities these will form the basis of engagement with the broader community.

The CRG is made up of community members with a diverse range of interests in the Preston Market and surrounding neighbourhood. Specifically, the CRG is made up of 27 members who represent a range of different connections to the Preston Market site. The CRG has two types of members:

  • Community members – people who represent local residents and businesses (including market traders)
  • Group representatives – people who are recognized representatives of local  community groups and networks

The CRG will participate in  a  series  of  exploratory  workshops  to  understand  the  constraints  and opportunities for the site. This will be done through expert presentations on urban design, planning policy, transport, open space, community facilities and markets, and focused discussions with technical experts.

Supporting Documentation

Preston Market Review Phase One Engagement Findings
PDF  Version
Remit of the Community Reference Group
PDF  Version
CRG meeting 1 summary notes
PDF  Version
Architectus urban design presentation to CRG 2
PDF  Version
Capire presentation to CRG meeting 1
PDF  Version
Cardno presentation to CRG meeting 2
PDF  Version
City of Darebin presentation to CRG 2
PDF  Version
CRG meeting 2 summary notes
PDF  Version
CRG meeting 3 summary notes
PDF  Version
CRG meeting 4 summary notes
PDF  Version