The former Healesville Freeway Reserve in Melbourne’s north east will be remade as a public park, opening up 35 hectares of land for local residents to enjoy.
The Victorian Government raised $10.5 million from the sale of adjacent properties, which has been set aside to fund the reserve.
The 3.5kmgreen corridor between Springvale Road and the Morack Golf Course will be connected with a continuous trail for walking and cycling.
In 2017 and 2018 the local community provided ideas and direction into the development of the Healesville Freeway Reserve Concept Plan for the future of the park – identifying access and trails, nature and biodiversity as the two main priorities for this valuable land.
Member for Eastern Metropolitan, Shaun Leane, said, “We promised we wouldn’t sell this land off to developers and would ensure it stayed in the hands of the local community – and we’ve delivered on that promise.
“It’s never been more important for people to have safe, accessible local parks and I can’t wait to get to work on creating a great new park in this 35 hectares of precious green space.”
Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio, said, “I’m thrilled to announce that Parks Victoria will start working with the community this year to deliver a new park for local people to enjoy, backed with more than $10 million to start implementing the plan.”
The community strongly supported the selection of a suitable Aboriginal name for the new park – with a new name to be developed in consultation with local Aboriginal party.
Ms D’Ambrosio said, “We know the local community supports the new park’s name reflecting the continuing Aboriginal connection to Country in the area, and we are working with Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation on a name that acknowledges that connection.”
When formal surveying of the site is completed later this year, Parks Victoria will consult with a community reference group consisting of the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation, Whitehorse City Council and organisations like the Friends of Healesville Freeway Reserve throughout the implementation of the concept plan.
They will engage with the community on the development of a main trail and enhancements to flora and fauna. The design will also allow for future upgrades such as the council’s vision for sporting facilities in the vicinity.
Initial works, such as the removal of fences and gates that prevent easy access to the park, as well as replacing outdated signage with current and relevant information, will begin mid-2022.