Preston Reservoir landscape master plan

We have developed a landscape master plan for the whole of the Preston Reservoir to provide a vision for renewing the landscape features of the site over the next 15 years.

Provide your comments

Works to remove the cypress trees along High Street, Preston will start in August 2014.

If you would like to provide your comments on the replacements for the cypress trees, please email

Alternatively, please fee free to call Charlotte Blakey, Environmental Land Management Officer at Melbourne Water (03) 9679 7083.

As part of our landscape master plan, we are providing direction for the replacement of the cypress trees currently lining Preston Reservoir, along High Street. These trees have been assessed as posing a safety risk to people and property in their current state. Because they are heritage listed, a permit is required from Heritage Council of Victoria (Heritage Victoria) to remove and replace the trees. In early July 2014, we received this permit.

Our existing landscape plan indicates black sheoak (Allocasuarina littoralis) as the replacement species for the High Street frontage. This must be reviewed to meet the conditions outlined in the permit from Heritage Victoria. We will continue to liaise with Heritage Victoria and the local community in order to select an appropriate replacement conifer species.   

The permit originally approved by Darebin City Council in 2012, was to remove five cypress trees within the eastern row of trees along High Street. A condition of this permit was the production of a landscape plan which would outline the tree species to replace the cypress.  The heritage listing requires an additional permit, which overrides the Council permit, and outlines further conditions that must be met.

What’s happening and when?

We will be removing the cypress along the east side of Preston Reservoir, along High Street, in August 2014. These works are expected to take approximately 10 days. Once an appropriate replacement species is selected, the trees will be planted as soon as practicable.

Our revised plans for the tree replacement will consider a conifer species that:

  • has a habit to accentuate vertical growth
  • grows no taller than 15 metres at maturity (to comply with SP Ausnet's Tree planting guidelines)
  • has a long life
  • will have minimal impact to underground infrastructure.

Tree removal work will commence this month to ensure any risk to public safety and operating assets are minimised.

July 2014​ Heritage Victoria granted Melbourne Water a permit to remove the 30 cypress lining the east of High Street along Preston Reservoir. A condition of this permit requires a tree planting plan which identifies an 'appropriate alternative conifer' to replace the cypress.
February 2014​
Melbourne Water applied to Heritage Victoria for a permit to remove and replace the cypress on the east side of High Street along Preston Reservoir.​
November 2013​
We received confirmation from the Heritage Council of Victoria (the independent statutory authority and Victoria's main decision-making body on (non-Indigenous) cultural heritage issues) that the Yan Yean Water Supply System was added to the Victorian Heritage Register.
Preston Reservoir No. 1, 2 and 3 are part of the Yan Yean Water Supply System and the Heritage Council of Victoria is our key stakeholder in the use and development of the 'heritage place'.​

October 2013​

Darebin City Council approved plans to replace the Monterey Cypress with black sheoak (Allocasuarina littoralis). Support for this tree species was strongly shown throughout the community consultation.

Subsequent to this approval, we finalised the landscape master plan.​

Early 2013​

We undertook community consultation regarding the development of a landscape master plan for the whole of Preston Reservoir. This consultation included the issuing of media releases and community bulletins, discussions held with Council staff and residents, and the hosting of an onsite information day. A key focus of this consultation was to discuss the proposed tree replacements for the Monterey cypress.

Why is this project important?

Preston Reservoir plays a critical part as a holding reservoir to supply fresh water to Melbourne’s inner and western suburbs.

The objectives of the landscape master plan are to:

  • provide a holistic vision for the appearance, function and amenity of the site, while recognising and protecting the primary purpose of the land, which is to provide water supply services
  • provide direction of the replacement species of the Monterey cypress currently lining both sides of High Street
  • achieve broad community understanding of the future appearance of the site
  • to create a safe environment for all uses of the site

The landscape master plan will direct the long term appearance of the landscape at the Preston Reservoir.  We acknowledge that there will be major changes to the landscape during the implementation period, most notably with the potential removal of all of the Monterey cypress over the next 3 to 15 years, including along the reservoir boundaries on High Street.  

The site has two significant buildings from a heritage perspective, both brick buildings. The former caretaker's residence, constructed in the 1860’s, and the nearby accounts payable office, circa 1900.  Reservoirs 2 and 3, constructed in 1909 and 1968 respectively, have a heritage overlay (H0272) under the Darebin City Council planning scheme.

History of the site

prestonreservoir_c.jpgPreston Reservoir No.1, on the west of High Street, was excavated in 1863-64 and the clay was used to form the surrounding embankments, with the base and sides lined with bluestone pitchers. The reservoir commenced supplying Melbourne with water in 1864. Up until 1881 Preston was Melbourne’s only service reservoir.

By 1884 it was identified that Preston Reservoir needed additional water storage and area of approximately 11ha was purchased on the east side of High Street. Reservoirs 2 and 3 were constructed in 1909 and 1913 respectively.  Eventually reservoirs No.2 and No.3 were covered in order to prevent dust entering the water supply.

Your feedback

If you have any comments on the landscape master plan, the proposed tree species to line High Street, or any other queries, please contact us on the details below.

  • call Charlotte Blakey, Environmental Land Management Officer at Melbourne Water on (03) 9679 7083
  • call Melbourne Water on 131 722



Did you know?

Planting trees around reservoirs not only improves the area's appearance, but also minimises airborne dirt entering the open structures.


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