City of Melbourne recently released a development control document consisting of a series of design guidelines for the site bound by Therry, Elizabeth, Franklin and Queen Streets. This precedes the release of the draft masterplan for the Queen Victoria Market Precinct Renewal due for community engagement in May 2015.
In part the guidelines were drafted to help inform future development of the block, but with a focus on what is known as the 'Munro site'. The 6,462 square metre site is defined by of a series of old red-brick buildings housing a supermarket, cafes, antique shops and even a Mr Burger. This morning, the City of Melbourne announced that it was the successful bidder for the Munro site paying $76,000,000 (plus transaction costs) with settlement on July 1, 2015. Savills City Sales & Investments directors Clinton Baxter and Nick Peden facilitated the deal.
The site is illustrated below within its context.
The block bounded by Therry, Franklin, Elizabeth and Queen streets has always played an important part in the Queen Victoria Market precinct.
This parcel of land is currently for sale. The City of Melbourne believes it is of major strategic importance for the city and the future of the market precinct as we embark on a suite of renewal projects for the market and its surrounds.
The City of Melbourne has drafted development guidelines for developers and decision makers who may have an interest in purchasing or developing the site.
The purpose of these development guidelines is to support a best practice approach for the development of the site, consistent with the principles underpinning the renewal of the precinct.
Council has resolved to provide the guidelines to the real estate agent managing the sale of the site, for the attention of those submitting an Expression of Interest to purchase and also to make the guidelines publically available.
Council also resolved that a request be made to the vendor and the real estate agent for the EOI period to be extended to ensure any interested parties have time to consider the guidelines.City of Melbourne
The document is structured into four sections consisting of key themes or desired outcomes which are supplemented by a series of preferred outcomes accompanied by an outlining rationale for each point.
The guidelines set out a preferred minimum 20 metre and maximum 30 metre podium height similar to nearby Melbourne Terrace, with any height greater than 20m to be setback from streets by 10m. This would provide an active wrap to the potential relocation of 400 public car spaces onsite from the current QVM carpark.
Council also wishes to avoid a 'tabula rasa' development scenario where the site is essentially treated as a clean slate, thus avoiding demolition of significant structures. Instead a more integrated development approach is encouraged which promotes cross site links for pedestrians between Therry and Franklin Street's as it is one of very few blocks in the CBD lacking any form of continuous north-south mid-block public pedestrian links.
Prolific tweeter Cr. Stephen Mayne this morning made the following comments about the purchase by Melbourne City Council.
Here's formal council statement announcing $76m Munro site purchase. July 1 settlement means we fund in 15-16 budget http://t.co/lfoeKjI9FC— Stephen Mayne (@MayneReport) October 14, 2014
The 1 hour and 16 minute debate on the Queen Vic Market on August 12 was pivotal in driving the $76m Munro Site bid: http://t.co/I2MX9snex2— Stephen Mayne (@MayneReport) October 14, 2014
Buying Munro site allows council to convert existing at-grade car park into public open space & avoid disruptive $55m underground carpark.— Stephen Mayne (@MayneReport) October 14, 2014
Melbourne's first cemetery under the existing ugly QVM at-grade car park makes redevelopment very difficult. Munro site could take 400 spots— Stephen Mayne (@MayneReport) October 14, 2014
@paul_roser The idea is to convert the existing ugly asphalt at grade 700 car park and convert it into QVM public open space with events etc— Stephen Mayne (@MayneReport) October 14, 2014
It is refreshing to see a council get on the front foot and set a series of parameters for a key site within the city. Charting out the type of development that council expects for the site which if adhered could see a rather smooth planning and approvals process whilst also providing developers and the public with some level of certainty surrounding the site. Even more refreshing is when council considers the site to be of enough significance to warrant purchasing the site themselves as has been observed this morning to facilitate renewal of another key city asset in the Queen Victoria Market.
It would be a beneficial exercise for similar guidelines to be drafted by councils around metropolitan Melbourne on other key sites that come up for sale, but I feel where the guidelines are somewhat lacking is in the best practice and benchmarking which sees the lack any examples/exemplary projects, but without necessarily being too prescriptive. Keeping in mind that while the concept of 'good' design may be a rather subjective notion, it is one that should be encouraged, pursued and fostered.
The inclusion of a requirement for the design of any proposed development to be reviewed during various stages of the design process by the Office of the Victorian Architect Design Review Panel is a step in the right direction as well.
On September 30th City of Melbourne resolved to approve the guidelines and with their purchase of the site are now to be implemented. The outcome will be quite interesting and it may set a template for future development of consolidated sites.
The full development guidelines document and Council's recommendation relating to the adoption of the guidelines are available from the City of Melbourne website.