By Jed Lanyon
The Healesville Green was recently reclassified as a commercial zone making a move for private ownership of the space closer.
The controversial move was long feared by some local residents as a monthly local market makes use of the 13 Green Street block for trade.
The vacant block located on the corner of River Street and Green Street (13 Green Street) was recently approved for amendment by the Minister for Planning. The amendment came into effect on 28 May and saw the space rezoned from public use to a commercial 1 zone.
Uncertainty of the future of the land has lingered for years as local residents had hoped Yarra Ranges Council would purchase the land to keep it in the hands of the community.
Healesville Action Group (HAG) spokesperson John Anwin spoke to Star Mail about the latest development.
“Not unexpectedly the Planning Minister Richard Wynne has approved the Amendment C187 to allow for the sale of 13 Green Street.
The Green, as it has become known over the 10 years that HAG has been fighting to have this area placed into local government hands, to be retained for community use.
“HAG along with many others in the community have appealed to the various ministers in the state government, from the Premier down, to exercise their powers of intervention to have this VicTrack owned land retained for community use but all have refused, obviously placing the relatively few dollars gained to the overall state budget, over the benefit to the Healesville and wider community.”
Mr Anwin and fellow Healesville resident John Rosser represented HAG at a committee, which heard submissions on the issue last year.
“It was obvious that the Committee terms of reference precluded them from recommending anything that would not return the maximum financial benefit to VicTrack,” Mr Anwin said.
Late submissions made by the CFA addressing bushfire risk described the landscape as being “heavily forested with likely high to extreme fuel loadings creating an extreme risk to Healesville township”.
Based on the CFA’s submission, the committee concluded that planning controls for the site should be prohibited from being used as accommodation, education centre, a fuel depot, hospital or medical centre, a place of assembly, and for use of trade supplies or a timber yard.
It also required any permit for the site to include the condition of a bushfire emergency management plan.
Mr Anwin spoke passionately of what the Healesville Community market brings to the township.
“From a personal point of view, you always go down to the market. Everybody goes to the market,” he said.
“It’s also about the money that is brought into the town. You speak to any of the retailers in town and they’ll tell you on a market day that business is definitely better.”
He said that while he understands why Council might not be in a position to purchase ‘The Green’, he still holds hope that VicTrack would come to the table with Yarra Ranges Council.
“In the overall grand scheme of things, it’s a million bucks. It’s nothing to them.”