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Preston open space consultation

07 Dec 2020

Artist impression of a family walking along a boardwalk through tall grasses.

The Victorian Government is removing the dangerous and congested level crossings at Oakover Road, Bell Street, Cramer Street, and Murray Road, Preston.

Removing these level crossings will make communities safer and get commuters in Melbourne’s inner north home sooner.

The four level crossings will be removed by raising the rail line over the roads onto a rail bridge which will create new community open space that will transform the precinct.

Working closely with expert urban and landscape designers, the Level Crossing Removal Project has been collecting feedback and insights from the local community for over 12 months to help design the new open space.

We’ve used feedback from surveys, online engagement and discussions with the Preston Open Space Advisory Panel (POSAP) to design spaces that are a reflection of the Preston community.

Community Consultation

Over the last 12 months, we have collected feedback and ideas from the community to help us design new open spaces that will transform the entire precinct. All feedback from the wider community consultation was fed directly into the Preston Open Space Advisory Panel.

Vision and values

25 November to 13 December 2019

We asked the Preston community what was important to them in the local area and what they wanted to see delivered as part of the Preston Level Crossing Removal Project.


Preston locals were able to share their insights via an online survey, or via several conversation booths located at Bell and Preston stations, as well as Preston Market.

The project team also met with local schools, community groups and traders to gather their ideas and feedback on their vision for Preston.

Feedback summary

From conversations and online feedback, the top priorities for Preston locals were:

  • Improved safety
  • Pedestrian and cycling paths
  • Efficient traffic flow
  • Retaining or creating open space
  • Environmental sustainability
  • A vibrant station precinct
  • Community facilities

Detailed information on the vision and values of Preston locals can be viewed in the Preston Community Feedback Report.

Open space consultation

22 April to 6 May 2020

The Preston community shared their ideas and thoughts on how they’d like the new community open spaces to be developed underneath the new elevated rail line.


With Victorians encouraged to stay home to help stop the spread of coronavirus, the planned in-person community information sessions were cancelled.

New online tools were used to allow the community to share their ideas and provide feedback. People contributed by commenting on a map of the project area and completing an online survey

Feedback summary

The feedback received indicated green open space is overwhelmingly welcomed as part of the project.

Many people wanted more outdoor places to spend with family and friends.

The two key priorities that emerged from the feedback were safety and accessibility.

The community told us children’s safety and feeling safe walking at night – particularly for women – were important.

They also told us community open spaces had to be accessible for everyone in the community.

Popular ideas for open space from the community included:

  • Parks, gardens and seating
  • Sports and recreation
  • Walking and cycling
  • Playgrounds
  • Art and culture

Detailed information on the open space consultation can be found in the Preston Open Space Feedback Report.

Preston Open Space Advisory Panel

The Preston Open Space Advisory Panel (POSAP) comprised local residents, community group members and a representative from Darebin City Council.

POSAP meetings were held between May and November 2020, online via Zoom due to government restrictions to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Over six meetings, POSAP members discussed opportunities, shared ideas and provided feedback on how the new open spaces could be designed to reflect the character of Preston, facilitate social interaction and improve the local area.


POSAP areas

Due to the many project site constraints and considerations, three key areas of open space were

identified for discussion with POSAP. These designated POSAP areas were identified to ensure the process focused on areas where the panel could have the most influence.

These areas were:

  1. Bell Street to Cramer Street
  2. Miller Street to Showers Street
  3. North of Murray Road

POSAP members

  • Rowena Archer, Community Member
  • Shez Bakhuri, Bell Residents Group
  • Esme Bamblett, Aboriginal Advancement League
  • Ainsley Bedggood, Community Member
  • Neil Boland, Community Member
  • Lucinda Hartley, Community Member
  • Chris Lombardo, Bridge Darebin
  • Jennifer Loulie, Darebin City Council
  • Michael Webb, Community Member

Example of landscaping with rocks and native grasses.

POSAP Area 1 – Bell Street to Cramer Street

POSAP Area 2 – Miller Street to Showers Street

POSAP Area 3 – North of Murray Road

Children dancing and playing didgeridoos in a yarning circle.

Yarning circle

Children building a fort with sticks in a nature play area.

Nature play

POSAP meetings

Following an initial introductory meeting, each POSAP meeting focused on a particular POSAP area.

Meetings 2-4 included an overview of project constraints and considerations in that area, as well as presentations from placemaking experts and landscape architects on what could potentially be achieved. POSAP members provided suggestions, insights and feedback which was fed back into the project design team.

Members were able to provide feedback on these concept designs, and in order to gather further feedback from the wider Preston community, POSAP members were asked to discuss the draft designs with their networks using the online engagement tool, Mural.

Community feedback provided via Mural over a two-week period was collated, with POSAP discussing the top themes at meeting 6. This session included having community questions answered by project team attendees.

Following these discussions, the project team has worked with expert landscape architects and designers to produce the new designs for Preston’s newest open space.

An overview of each POSAP meeting can be viewed on our website.

Responding to feedback from POSAP

The POSAP process was adapted and refined throughout the six-month consultation period.

More open space for POSAP input

During discussions in POSAP, members felt that the three POSAP areas identified didn’t provide enough open space for community input. In response to this feedback, the design and engineering team investigated opportunities to enable greater POSAP input.

More opportunities for community feedback

POSAP meetings were held online due to COVID-19 restrictions, which meant changes to way the project team gathered insights from POSAP and their representative groups.

POSAP members expressed a desire for more opportunity to engage with their networks and more time to provide feedback.

In response to this, an additional meeting was added to the schedule and the project team introduced the use of the online engagement tool, ‘Mural’.

Mural is a digital workspace for online collaboration, effectively replicating some of the interactive activities that would have been used at face-to-face meetings.

Following the September meeting, POSAP members held online meetings to show and discuss the draft open space areas with their local networks.

Feedback from these sessions was placed into a map on Mural via digital ‘sticky-notes’. POSAP members also posted ideas, example images from other open space areas and questions for the project team.

At the October meeting, these comments were discussed, clarified and challenged by POSAP members and the feedback was provided directly to the project team for consideration in the open space design.s Street

Thank you and next steps

Thank you to the POSAP members who took the time to share their local knowledge and insights to help shape the Preston’s newest open spaces.

The feedback received has been integral to the development of open spaces, making sure the

area meets the needs of the local community.

By working with Preston locals, we’re confident that the new open spaces deliver what you asked for - green open spaces that can be used by everyone in Preston, are easy to get to and are safe.

You can view the open concept designs on to tell us what you think.

For more information about the project visit our website.

View the PDF version of this fact sheet PDF, 4.8 MB

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