Melbourne locals fear Preston Market could be demolished for new apartments

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Melbourne locals have expressed concern over a proposed structure plan for the Preston Market, which could see the precinct become home to up to 6,000 new residents by 2041.

Jim Katsaros has run Athina’s Deli for 10 years and comes to the Preston Market almost every day since arriving in Australia from Greece as an 11-year-old boy.

“The atmosphere is really what counts at the end,” he said to ABC News.

“You can find shopping centres all over the place, it will never be the same.”

The Victorian Planning Authority wants more people to be living in “20-minute neighbourhoods”, where all daily needs and public transport can be found within a 20-minute walk from home.

The Preston Market opened in 1970 and is Melbourne’s second-biggest market.(Supplied: Darebin Appropriate Development Association)

If that’s the mission, a parcel of land on the cusp of Melbourne’s inner-north next to a train station is a goldmine.

A proposed structure plan for the area released this week shows the potential introduction of a cinema, fitness centre, medical and childcare centres, community spaces and offices, which the authority says could support up to 1,400 ongoing jobs.

To make space for all that, the demolition of most of the original market structure would be allowed, but the fruit and vegetable shed would remain intact.

Site developers would be forced to include a fresh food market of at least the same trading size as the current market.

Under the structure plan, high-rise developments could house thousands of people on and around the market site.(Supplied: Victorian Planning Authority)

Mr Katsaros wants to see the market preserved through the development, so his children can have the opportunity to take on the family business if they choose.

“All I’m saying is I wish Salta, the owners, do a good job and look after the people, that is my wish,” he said.

“If they don’t, they’re going to create problems for everyone.”

He said generations of Melburnians from Pascoe Vale to Heidelberg had not built such loyalty to the market because of “glitter and the glamour”.

Mr Katsaros’s family deli is named after his wife, Athina.(ABC News: Joseph Dunstan)

“You need family-created businesses where you can sell fresh stuff and cater for human beings,” he said.

The VPA’s CEO, Stuart Moseley, said the plan would help deal with a “sea of carparking” that was underused two days a week.

Mr Moseley said the idea was to transform the space into a “thriving precinct” for the future.

“The planning rules we have released will ensure there is a market on that site, that it is a fresh food market, that it has the same look, feel … trading area as it currently does and that it has that vibe about it that makes it special,” he said.

Source: ABC News

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