Moreland residents receive early present as zoning changes

Moreland residents have had an early Christmas present with the formal gifting of the Edgars Creek parklands to the city. It will now be the size of 15 Melbourne Cricket Grounds.

Victorian Planning Minister Matthew Guy said that final negotiations with VicRoads had resulted in three parcels of land being transferred to the state department of environment and primary industry in exchange for land at Greenvale.  This deal finalises the decision of former Planning Minister Justin Madden, who declared the parkland - bounded by the former Pentridge jail and Kodak industrial sites - as Crown Land in 2010.

Now, the Edgar’s Creek parklands will cover more than 11 hectares and be bordered by the Edgars and Merri creeks and Golf and Newlands roads in Coburg North.

The win ends a long campaign for the Friends of Edgar’s Creek who fought from 2006 to safeguard the land - the largest open space left in Moreland - for the public. The Moreland Reader reported that it had been retained by VicRoads since the 1970s for a possible freeway link.

The Friends’ grass roots strategies included monthly meetings, a website, letter-box drops, stalls at shopping centres, petitions, writing to relevant ministers, and sending letters to the local paper, according to Friends member Peter Hodge (The Age, August 13, 2010). Local councillors and state and federal MPs were in the spotlight, with the Friends even protesting on the steps of Parliament House. Two “Walk through the park” events attracted hundreds of residents and politicians, and tree plantings put the focus squarely on nature – not development.

“Open space and parklands are some of Melbourne’s greatest assets and this expansion ensures that Edgars Creek Parklands will be enjoyed by the community for many years to come,” Guy said.

“The Coalition Government is committed to maintaining and creating quality open space in which communities can gather and live healthy, happy lifestyles.

“This agreement will deliver the Coburg community and future generations with over 11 hectares of quality parkland for public open space and recreation.”

The City of Moreland will be appointed as the committee of management.

“Creating healthy and active neighbourhoods is a key initiative of Plan Melbourne and is a major element of maintaining Melbourne’s liveability into the future,” Guy said.

“Parks and gardens consistently rated as No. 1 in the aspects of Melbourne that people value most in surveys we conducted as part of developing Plan Melbourne.”

Kelvin Thomson, the former Labor member for the federal seat of Wills, which covers the area, described the park at the Victorian Government’s metropolitan land inquiry in 2009 as ‘’the lungs of Coburg, pumping oxygen through the veins of our otherwise built up and urbanised community’’.

Christine Campbell, the Labor member for Pascoe Vale, has worked hard since 2005 to ensure the parkland remains a well maintained public open space.

She said the Friends expected the completion of administrative tasks and a final letter of confirmation would take ‘’about 12 months’’ from when Planning Minister Madden declared the parkland to be Crown Land in 2010.

“It’s disappointing Mr Guy has taken so long to provide the final piece of correspondence,’’ she said.

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