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UPDATED: Advocacy Position Statement regarding City of Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market Renewal Plans

12 September 2017

The National Trust of Australia (Victoria) today issued a detailed Position Statement on the Queen Victoria Market Renewal Project. This Statement has been endorsed by the Trust’s Board. CEO Simon Ambrose stated that the NTAV continues to engage constructively with the QVM Renewal process and welcomes the opportunity which the project provides for the refurbishment of a heritage site which is of National importance. While acknowledging this positive aspect of the project, the Trust continues to have concerns about aspects of the redevelopment, and envisages continuing detailed discussion with the City of Melbourne and QVM Renewal Team, as well as the provision of detailed feedback on future permit applications. Issues that the Trust believes still need to be resolved include (but are not limited to):

  • Some “back of house” operations should be retained above ground to maintain the intangible values of the market identified in the Conservation Management Plan for the site, which states that “For the more traditional ‘back of house’, or more specifically ‘back of stall’ operations of the traders, these should not be concealed, as seeing and hearing these activities on market days is part of the authentic market experience. Historic market related practices, as viewed by customers, directly contribute to the ‘theatre’ of the market.” [Our emphasis.]
  • We have concerns regarding the impact of stair and lift insertions providing access to basement levels, which could negatively impact on the open nature of the sheds and views of the market from above. We submit that the number of lifts and stair access points should be minimised, and that the lift structures should not project above the roof line of the sheds. If insertions above the roof-line are proposed, we expect the City of Melbourne to provide evidence that all other options have been considered.
  • The Retail Plan for Quarter 2 (page 38) refers to “weather protection”, and the option of “fixed stalls” in sheds A-D. It’s unclear what form these changes would take, however given that the significance of the sheds derives from the open-air nature of the sheds, this is cause for concern. Similarly, in regard to the Peel Street edge of the market sheds, the plan states “The sensitive adaptation of this edge of the market’s heritage fabric will also serve as a form of weather protection for the western end of Q2.” It is our position that the open-air nature of the sheds should be maintained.
  • Similarly, further detail should be provided for public consultation regarding references in the Business Case (p 66) to proposed changes in Quarter 2 including “Design of a new Fresh Food Market place in Q2, position Queen Victoria Market’s iconic fruit and vegetables in a refreshed environment that combines the restored heritage sheds with quality presentation stalls, lighting and ambient climate control”, as well as “weather protection” and the option of “fixed stalls” in sheds A-D. It is our position that the open-air nature of the market sheds should be maintained.
  • Proposed changes to the Market’s fresh food offer are contemplated in the Retail Strategy, which states that Meat & Fish Hall traders will be “encouraged to evolve over time to incorporate a greater focus on value add, take home meals and food cooked on site” – a significant shift from the current market offer – however no supporting evidence of this shift in demand has been provided. In our view, an emphasis on “value added” products has the potential to undermine the culture and accessibility of market trading. We have concerns that any potential “gentrification” of the market’s fresh food offer would impact on prices, and we believe the Market should continue to be an affordable place for all Melbournians to shop. This should be the subject of further analysis and stakeholder consultation.
  • The form of the public space and treatment of New Franklin Street is yet to be determined, and we submit that the detailed design should ensure that the Franklin Street edge can continue to be read as the southern extent of the market, rather than allowing the public open space to visually excise the Franklin Street stores from the rest of the market site.
  • We have significant concerns regarding the scale of development proposed behind the Franklin Street Stores, with planning controls providing a discretionary maximum height limit of 100m or floor area ratio of 12:1. We maintain our position submitted at the Planning Panel Hearing for planning amendment C245 that this development should have a maximum height of 20m, or at least be minimised to prevent this new development from overwhelming the market. It is also our position that this development should be further set back from the Franklin Street stores.
  • It is our position that the height of the “Queens Corner” building adjacent to the new public open space should be limited to 7m, or one storey.

The National Trust of Australia (Victoria) supports the National Heritage Listing of the QVM, and any conditions attached to this listing. The National Trust will make further comment once the decision on National Heritage Listing has been announced.

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