HELP KEEP HOSKEN A PLACE FOR COMMUNITY
In September 2020 City of Moreland tendered out a project to rip up the oval at the north end of Hosken Reserve (Coburg North) and replace it with synthetic soccer pitches. This plan was never made public and never subjected to local community consultation.
The only consultation with Merlynston residents about an upgrade to sports facilities at Hosken Reserve took place in 2007-2009. Back then the plan was to convert a much smaller area east of the oval to a training-size synthetic pitch and this informed the Hosken Reserve Masterplan adopted by council in 2009.
The 2009 Masterplan specified Hosken's north oval should remain a natual grass surface but recommended it be reshaped for senior soccer games. The planners proposed the existing soccer pitch in the southern half of Hosken Reserve (which has been fenced and inaccessible to local residents for many years) be considered for future conversion to synthetic.
There has never been another Masterplan, and the switch in plan appears to have been boosted by a $500,000 grant from the Victorian Government. Locals only found out about it because a tender document was shared on social media by the soccer club. City of Moreland put the project to tender 3 days before the council election caretaker period.
In late November 2020 the Victorian Government announced it would revoke its contribution to the project with Community Sports Minister Ros Spence finding that "no community consultation had been conducted by Moreland City Council for the specific project it sought state government funding for, contrary to the undertakings made in the funding application".
Despite this damning finding, Pascoe Vale FC, some Moreland staff and councillors continue to express support for a synthetic pitch in Merlynston's only large, community-accessible green space. If this project goes ahead Merlynston residents fear they will no longer have access to an appealing and suitable space for their own active recreational pursuits within the recommended 500-metre walking distance of their homes.
In December 2020 City of Moreland councillors voted to conduct a 'robust' community engagement and masterplan refresh for Hosken Reserve in 2021. Yet based on Moreland's previous conduct regarding Hosken Reserve, and as details emerge about how the consultation will be conducted, local residents continue to fear their needs will be sidelined to appease segments of Moreland's vocal and powerful club soccer interests.
We're urging Moreland residents to contact key council decision-makers to make it clear that Moreland's grass sports fields hold value to groups beyond organised (club) sport, particularly as our municipality becomes more populated. Any moves to reserve access for sports clubs and organisations exclusively should be transparent and thoroughly tested, or Hosken Reserve risks setting a troubling precedent.
Hosken Reserve is a valued open space for the community, popular with local families, walkers, joggers, dog walkers, soccer players and residents of all ages and abilities. The reserve already houses a fenced-off, full-sized soccer pitch at its southern end. The large, grassed northern end is shared by the soccer club and our community, for a multitude of healthy activities. Green open space for everyone to exercise is now more important than ever.
What You Can Do
Moreland's new councillors are likely to determine the future of our green space. It is their job to hear all voices, including yours.
Here's a list of council and state government decision-makers including contact details.
Share Your Photos
Let council and the state government know how precious this space is for your health and community. Share your photos of Hosken and let your social networks know what's going on. Please tag @savehoskenreserve
SIGN THE PETITION
Sign the petition demanding City of Moreland uphold its promise to give local residents a say on the future of their parks and open spaces. Share it with your Moreland friends.
We are the Coburg North residents who live around Hosken Reserve. We have 120 local families signed up to our newsletter. We value the open space the park currently provides and want it to remain available for the community to use now and in future. We have no objection to soccer games being played in the north half of Hosken Reserve, but it should remain a sustainable, pleasant, grass space for all.