Queen Vic set to become the 'market of markets'

Yesterday marked another step in the long road to gaining a revamped Queen Victoria Market. The third stage of community engagement regarding the redevelopment has commenced, which coincides with the release of the Queen Victoria Market Precinct Renewal Draft Master Plan.

The Draft Master Plan follows a period of consultation in which the community and those with vested interests in the market utilised the opportunity to inform Melbourne City Council as to what they would consider an ideal revamp of the institution. Following a period of further public consultation beginning this Monday coming, it's expected a final master plan will be delivered toward the end of 2015, with detailed design commencing thereafter.

And it's the final master plan which will outline the scope of works to be undertaken, where the current expectation is that the renewal may generate 9000 new jobs at the market, 12,000 jobs in the surrounding precinct and thousands of construction jobs.

Precinct Location and Staging Plan subsequently split into quadrant divisions

According to the Draft Master Plan "Queen Victoria Market will be a ‘market of markets’, with a distinctive offer and experience in each of its main trading quarters, interlinked by a network of attractive public spaces and connected to the surrounding city by high quality streetscapes."

While Quarter 1 covers the existing halls of Lower Market, Quarter 2 or Upper Market with its Victorian sheds is due for substantial change. A new frontage to Peel Street will be created while the quadrant is still listed as a possible location for an underground car park.

Quarter 3 will consist of open-air sheds and new public open spaces capable of handling changing markets and events. Quarter 4 involves the recently purchased Munro site and will see new development including a restored Mercat Cross Hotel, fine grained retail, hospitality and community uses that complement Queen Victoria Market. The new mixed-use building will also carry a mid-block pedestrian link between Franklin Street and Therry Street, in turn providing easier access to the market for the thousands of apartments under construction on or near Franklin Street.

What they say

In 2013, Melbourne City Council committed to the largest investment in its history: up to $250 million to renew the Queen Victoria Market (QVM) precinct.

After 18 months of speaking with traders and the community about what the renewal might look like, we now have an ambitious master plan which will bring the market into the 21st century while preserving its unique character and heritage. It will retain what we all love about the market, such as the fresh meat and produce and speciality shops, while facilitating a contemporary retail offer, new public spaces and the realignment of Franklin Street to create an important East-West connection.

I invite the community to have their say on the draft plan which divides the seven-hectare market site into four quarters, each with its own unique characteristics, opportunities and potential future use. The quarters intersect at the Market Cross, a new meeting place in the heart of QVM.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle

The purchase of the Munro site has been a game-changer. It gives us more options when we look at locating car parking and community facilities within the market.

This is the third and most critical round of community engagement to date. We’ve laid out a vision for each of the market quarters, but we need to test that vision with traders, shoppers, visitors and residents of the precinct to find out what’s important to them.

Councillor Stephen Mayne, Chair of Council’s Finance and Governance Portfolio
Melbourne City Council's envisaged timeline for the project


Noted in The Age yesterday was a piece outlining certain traders displeasure with the revamped market trading seven days a week. While not fundamentally against the changes that a redeveloped market would bring, their concerns lay primarily with the envisaged 6am-10pm trading hours.

Those gripes aside, Melbourne is a 24 hour city as championed by Melbourne City Council. QVM as one of Melbourne's premier tourist and shopping hubs absolutely should seek to trade as long as possible, bringing it in line with many other retailers throughout the CBD and surrounds. Provided there are sufficient ancillary entertainment options designed into the revamp, QVM should aspire to be of Melbourne's premier after dark drawcards, much like it is during the day... for five days a week at least.

Community engagement on the Queen Victoria Market Precinct Renewal Draft Master Plan is open from Monday March 2 to Sunday 29 March, 2015. For more information, see or visit the engagement hub at 452 Queen Street at the market.


Bilby's picture

It's pretty sad when our own council proposes demolishing the majority of one of Melbourne's most interesting and last low-rise heritage blocks for an above ground carpark. The retention of the Mercat Cross Hotel in isolation from the rest of the row is unjustified in heritage terms. Historically, the streetscape in which today's Mercat Cross sits was constructed as an unbroken whole - what reason is there to justify retaining a small piece of it on the corner? What happens to all the intact heritage laneways in the precinct? What happens to the existing heritage graded built fabric? Gone for a carpark - backward indeed for a council who wants to see this area listed by UNESCO.

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Riccardo's picture

I'm very much 'over' QVM. The small Japanese city of Hachinohe is one of many I have visited that had much better markets than Melbourne. If a small city can do a better job, we really do need to spend some time examining what is wrong with us.

We should be benchmarking against the likes of Lyon or Barcelona. And get rid of the junk sellers!

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Chris Seals's picture

Jesus Bilby,you would be one to protect an old timber shit house just due to its age ? Not all old is good and with that attitude progress stands still.

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Bilby's picture

Agree with Riccardo, to some extent! QVM can be better by focusing on high quality goods, the small scale, the local and the fine-grained as many Japanese markets do. As for your distinctly 19th century comments, Chris - good luck with your idea of "progress" when there are no distinctly old world 'Melbourne' blocks left in the CBD. Replication of every other city on the globe with high-rise, precast concrete, aluminium windowed, identical stacked floor plates is not "progress" - it's just a back-to-the-future conception of an ideal of the modernist city from the 1950s.

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Chris Seals's picture

Bilby, I agree that we must preserve quality building from the past, but the past is not all quality, I also agree that many of our newer buildings are a blight on the landscape, I for one would hope that the permits handed out in the future are passed due to design and aesthetics, I would love to see some of the older designs, with the likes of the Chrysler building in New york recreated in Melbourne, I am sure there would be many who would disagree with creating a folly, even finding old blue prints from the buildings demolished in Melbourne and recreating them with changes allowing for the accommodation of the modern world, As for the market, we could learn from other cities such as Barcelona and incorporate good practices and ideas into the up grade of VM. The problem is, a lot of the authorities in Melbourne lack vision and yes we must no matter what the cost,retain the lane ways.

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Bilby's picture

I agree that not everything that is old is 'good', Chris, but in this case, a whole lot of 'average' historic buildings with a great deal of preserved (if utilitarian) historic character and integrity in a predominantly low-rise format is what makes this block 'special'. Once there were dozens of such blocks in the CBD - not now. The last one with low-rise historic warehousing to be destroyed was A'Beckett Street near RMIT. How many remain today? The 'Melbourne Central' block of workshops and factories was knocked over in the '80s, with two 'standout' or 'landmark' buildings retained (i.e. the Coops Shot Tower and the Church of Christ on Swanston Street). Do we get any sense of the history, scale or unique streetscapes of that block now? Little Lon. has mostly been wiped out, with little of it's historic, gritty character remaining intact. The same goes for much of the inner-city - a whole lot of 'average' old Victorian terraces and commercial buildings add up to something unique and special on the world stage when taken as a whole. If we simply said, any run of the mill Victorian house or building could be removed from a given streetscape, in time, there would be hardly a street in Melbourne left standing. This is why historic precincts are so important, and why assessments need to be based on qualities other than 'grandeur'. Cities (and their past) are about a whole lot more than that.

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Chris Seals's picture

If and I hope many are as passionate as you, then we must save these historic areas, for its individuals like yourself that see the wonders of the past, so many other miss.

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Bilby's picture

I've always liked the fact that I live in a culturally rich city, so my passion is to retain and enhance that culture and history - which includes great new design, of course - but, yes, sometimes it's hard to see what you have until it is gone. No one in the 1950s, '60s, '70s or even early '80s would have thought for a minute that the grungy, industrial, sometimes rubbish-strewn lanes and 'Little' streets of the Melbourne CBD would one day become the most recognisable and desirable parts of the city to inhabit, shop, eat and drink in or just view street art and other installations. That didn't just happen, though - it took some serious thought, planning and vision to get to where we are now. And it meant retaining the old in order to create the new - the low-rise block next to QVM that City of Melbourne have bought could one day be as important as the other Melbourne lane way precincts if retained and adaptively reused in the right way. Or it could be turned into a giant above ground carpark with some heritage facades tacked on the front. We've been down that road before, and frankly, we know where it leads in terms of long term benefits for cities.

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Riccardo's picture

Like everyone else I adore Melbourne's lanes but unlike others I understand exactly how they became good: people and time.

Melbourne's CBD spent the 1960s and 70s retarding, if not dying, as policy focus shifted to other places. Of course people like Rob Adams had a hand in conscious rebranding and re-elevating the street level in Melbourne - but the real thing that makes a real difference is pure ped power - having vast numbers of people walking around - and time - having some stability in the offering which builds this culture that people cry out for so much.

Docklands - give it time. Finish it, first of all, let some retailers go broke, and be replaced by others, let the market find its equilibrium. Get more people down there.

QVM - this is a real retail niche. People aren't always looking for the 'biggest bargain' that is often found in the likes of Daiso or online. It has to be a shopping experience, and given that it is harder to get to than Chadstone, has to therefore be a vastly superior experience.

Stop worrying about how upmarket it needs to be - Melbourne has 4 million people or more, so it should not be hard in one location to have this specialist facility. Maybe let South Melbourne Market go further downmarket, so QVM can go up market.

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