The history of the acquisition of the old MFB site at 607-627 Victoria Street

Please read the articles (linked below), and ask yourselves, as we have, why public land is being thrown away, not only for zero public benefit, but to considerable public detriment, simply to increase profits for a developer. Please ask yourselves, as we have, why a fully functioning asset(MFB Training College), which was both a community and wider public good, (and appreciated by locals as a part of Abbotsford’s eclectic mix), was shunted to a known to be heavily contaminated, smaller, more expensive site, and consequently was not able to function for half a decade.

We may not be able to influence a cynical and perfunctory process heading towards what seems to be an inevitable result for “Walmer Plaza”, but we can question why this is happening. We can examine what has happened in the past.  We can remember what Minister Wynne has done (or not) for his electorate at the next election, on Saturday 24th November 2018.

Richmond is no longer the safe Labor seat that allowed former Planning Minister Justin Madden (twice the subject of parliamentary no-confidence motions due to corruption and fake consultation scandals), to use the powers he granted himself, to allow massive over-development, and the destruction of both the Yarra River Corridor and the electorate of Richmond. Former Minister Madden declared the old MFB Training site a Priority Development Zone, meaning planning permits did not need to go through normal scrutiny or channels.

Who knows? Perhaps someone who was involved may choose to step forward and reveal the entirety of the process involved in the “control (of) the area, all the corners around Victoria Gardens”(article one),  and the sale of the MFB Training College land.

Because this fundamental question remains unanswered 12 years later:
“I can’t understand anybody in their right mind selling two and a half acres on the river site that we have functioning and buying one and a bit acres for nearly the same money in an area that was known to be contaminated,” he said.  (see article three below)

Minister Wynne, Premier Andrews, you were given the privilege of being elected to represent the majority of Victorian people, not a handful of billionaire developers. That privilege is not automatic, and nor should it be.

Article one:

Fire sale clears way for new-look Richmond
By Martin Boulton October 19, 2004


“General manager Sam Tarascio said securing the MFB site was part of a long-term plan to gain control of the Victoria Street precinct…”It was always our long-term ambition to control the area, all the corners around Victoria Gardens,” he said. “That’s been achieved.”…The company’s application for an eight-storey office building at the corner of Walmer and Victoria streets was rejected by the council. The company will appeal against the decision at the state’s planning tribunal in December…The council’s urban design framework confirms that the precinct will experience “significant change” in future, but emphasises that development should be “constrained” to help protect river corridors…A planning amendment to enhance protection along river corridors is being considered by a government-appointed panel…”The Yarra River corridor is the most significant public space in the precinct,” the council said… Mayor Kay Meadows said the council supported a mix of land uses and modern development on the former industrial sites lining the river. But it also wanted new buildings to respect established residential neighbourhoods, including west of Burnley Street, next to land owned by Salta Properties…Cr Meadows told The Age the key issues facing the Victoria Street precinct were building setback from the river, more bicycle and walking links and better public transport.”

Article Two:

$40m training home for fire brigade
By Martin Boulton October 19, 2004

“A $40 million training centre for the Metropolitan Fire Brigade will be built in Burnley after the sale of its old site in Abbotsford. Development company Salta Properties paid $20 million for the 30-year-old building and $26.5 million for 56 hectares of vacant MFB land in Sunshine West.
The brigade was facing a $1 million bill to remove asbestos from its old building, which was used to train firefighters since 1973.
Deputy chief fire officer Keith Adamson said the new centre, on the old Transfield site at the corner of Burnley Street and Barkly Avenue, should be built within three years. “We monitored the asbestos in the building constantly . . . and the cost of stripping all of the asbestos out of the building basically meant going back to brick and concrete,” he said.
“On top of that the area is becoming quite sensitive, in terms of new development, so we decided it was better to build a state-of-the-art facility somewhere else.”

BUT WHY? The cost of asbestos removal was fractional in comparison.

Article Three:

“I can’t understand anybody in their right mind selling two and a half acres on the river site that we have functioning and buying one and a bit acres for nearly the same money in an area that was known to be contaminated,” he said.
“Until the fire brigade came along, 450 Burnley Street was Crown land. It was used as a tip and later a bitumen plant and an abattoir.
In 1994, the State Government commissioned a study to assess the area’s development
It found heavy metals, phenols and hydrocarbons in the soil and groundwater.
While a 2003 study commissioned by MFB itself warned that by acquiring the site, the fire brigade would be accepting liability for any future clean up costs.
Undeterred, MFB sold off a large parcel of industrial land in Melbourne’s outer western suburbs and is believed to have paid $6 million for the Richmond property.”

Why move from the functioning site at 607-627 Victoria Street (which required a far less expensive operation to remove asbestos) to a heavily contaminated, smaller site, that would not function?

Article Four:

Secret tape links ‘bribe’ to developer
Ben Schneiders October 24, 2009

SALTA has experience with sites containing asbestos.


4 thoughts on “The history of the acquisition of the old MFB site at 607-627 Victoria Street

  1. I am so sick of the corrupt crap our politicians expect us to swallow. We need better candidates! My vote will NOT be going to any of these old-school deals for mates politicians!


  2. Disgusted but not surprised. Don’t usually comment on these things but can’t help wondering if Wynne will be good buddies with Tarascio when he loses his seat because of him.


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