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Win for Merri-bek residents as court orders Montfort Park be given back to community

10 Aug 2023

A Brunswick site intended for free use by local residents has been ordered to be sold back to Merri-bek City Council by the Supreme Court, in a win for the community. 

The land at 98 Henkel Street and 1 Wendel Street was sold to a local organisation significantly under market value, with strict conditions that the open space portion remain accessible to residents.  

Merri-bek Mayor Cr Angelica Panopoulos said this is great outcome following repeated attempts by Council to work with the community organisation to fulfil its obligations. 

“Since the land was sold to this organisation in 2004, it has been fenced off for member-only use with membership applications continually refused.  

“A whole generation of children in the neighbourhood have been denied access to this much-needed open space. The organisation has breached its contract with Council and destroyed its goodwill with the community. 

“We’re thrilled that the Supreme Court has made the right decision to force the sale of land back to Council. We will immediately start the buy-back process, and later this year will ask the community for their input on how they want to access the revamped courts and building. 

“This is a major win for residents, and I thank them for their patience. Montfort Park is finally back in the hands of the Merri-bek community. I want to extend my sincere gratitude to all residents who backed this campaign, especially those who gave evidence to the Supreme Court during trial.” 

Over many years, Council has made many attempts to encourage and influence the owner of the site to give the community rightful access. This included holding a community open day on the site, and fully engaging in several court-ordered mediation processes when the organisation filed this case against Council.