The Queen Victoria Market redevelopment plans of the Melbourne City Council have effectively been stopped in their tracks by a ruling from Heritage Victoria. Heritage Victoria is an arm of the State Government’s Planning Department, led by Planning Minister Richard Wynne. Mr Wynne has long been opposed to the below ground construction part of the redevelopment.
There are powerful interests at play here. Even without Former Lord Mayor Robert Doyle pushing the project as his signature development, the current Council plan has strong support from the business community. Acting Lord Mayor Arron Wood acknowledges without heritage approval, the project cannot proceed.
The City of Melbourne have called in the big guns to shore up their plan and future agenda for the market. The Acting Lord Mayor claims that the current ‘Sheds’ could be removed and re-installed upon completion of the basements and ground works. Heritage Victoria does not agree that this can be done without permanent damage to the sheds and their heritage appeal.
Council has some rather notable opponents with regard to this opinion. Former Prime Minister Paul Keating was quoted last April (2017) as saying he believed any such removal would simply destroy the heritage value of the sheds.
The City of Melbourne have called upon their links with the City of London. Mr Donald Hyslop, the chair of London’s 1000 year old Borough Market visited the Queen Victoria Market last year.
Here is the full report in the Age Newspaper dated March 28th 2017.
If we do nothing, the market will die’: Fury at heritage ruling
The Queen Victoria Market will die a slow death unless major renovation works to heritage sheds are allowed to proceed, say Melbourne’s acting lord mayor and a prominent economist who wrote the business case for its redevelopment.
Melbourne City Council has vowed to appeal Heritage Victoria’s decision to reject an application to temporarily remove four of the market’s 140-year-old sheds.
The council wants to remove the sheds, dig three levels of parking and storage areas for traders beneath them, then return the refurbished structures to where they have stood since 1878.
But Heritage Victoria on Tuesday told council officers it did not accept assurances that the sheds could be returned in their original condition.
The heritage body, a state government authority, also believes the fabric of the 19th-century market would be irreversibly altered should the plan go ahead.
Acting lord mayor Arron Wood said without the heritage approval in place, the council could not proceed with its plan.
“The project is absolutely predicated on the below-basement facilities – all of these things are linked,” he said.
“This refusal means we can’t remove the sheds, we can’t go underground and deliver the parking the traders wanted and the below ground facilities the traders wanted,” Cr Wood said.
“This puts in jeopardy the entire project and we will appeal this decision.”
He said there was no question the sheds could be removed, restored and returned without damage.
Economist Marcus Spiller, whose company SGS completed the business case arguing for a major redevelopment of the market, said the market’s potential catchment pool of shoppers had tripled in the past 20 years.
“But the customer base has flatlined or even shrunk. If you go through the markets on any day but Saturday, you will see stalls with hessian shrouds over them – almost like coffins.”
“The place is suffering an incremental decline. If we do nothing, the market will die – it will become a skeletal remains of a once vibrant place,” Dr Spiller said.
The chair of London’s 1000-year-old Borough Market, Donald Hyslop, visited the Queen Victoria Market last year. He responded to an email from Melbourne City Council on Tuesday night about the heritage refusal, expressing his surprise.
“When we remade the market with the railway works going through between 2005 [and] 2012 we had to take all the main hall and roof structures down piece by piece, store for several years, and then put it all back together,” he wrote. He said the sheds were “better than original now but all heritage intact”.
London’s Borough Market was restored without losing its heritage values.
Cr Wood said something identical could happen in Melbourne.
Heritage Victoria’s decision comes despite the council having spent more than $15 million planning the revamp of the Melbourne landmark, which attracts 10 million visitors annually.
Last April, former prime minister Paul Keating attacked the city council’s plan, saying taking the sheds down and stripping their lead paint to restore them would ruin their heritage value.
“Imagine in this day and age, [the sheds] somehow being disassembled and re-riveted. All of the patina goes. Melbourne is trying to list this as a heritage site but there will be no heritage left.”
Planning Minister Richard Wynne has long been opposed to the below-ground construction part of the redevelopment plan, although he last year signed off on construction of a 40-storey apartment tower on land opposite the market’s deli hall on Elizabeth Street.
On Wednesday he said that it needed to be redeveloped, but in “a respectful way”. He said removing the sheds and returning them was an option Heritage Victoria did not accept as a ‘‘respectful resolution of this issue’’.
Heritage Victoria had been reviewing the council’s application and holding discussions with the council’s heritage consultants since September last year, Mr Wynne said. ‘‘It’s not as if this has been a quick or short-term conversation. This has been going on for some months.’’
Premier Daniel Andrews said his government was supportive of the market’s redevelopment. “This is an iconic site, it’s a big part of our economic activity, big part of Melbourne’s history and our story as we look to the future,” Mr Andrews told reporters on Wednesday morning.
But he said Heritage Victoria’s ruling was “very clear”.
“There will need to be a fresh look taken at this; there will need to be a fresh application put forward,” he said. “I’m prepared, all of us I think are prepared, to work with Melbourne City Council to try and find a way forward on this.”
He said everyone wanted a better Queen Victoria Market.
“It’s a very special place and its history is very important to us and we need to safeguard and protect the heritage of the site while at the same time finding a way to make it even better.”
The Queen Victoria Market has long been the people’s market. It’s simple, no fuss with a wealth of choice. It simply doesn’t require the major ‘overhaul’ the Council is currently suggesting. The reality is that it sits on a prime real estate site, and represents one of the last opportunities for developers in or near the Melbourne CBD.
It is a place where people from all demographics and ethnic backgrounds mix and depend upon. By all means modernise elements of it such as refrigeration, presentation and access. But it should never suffer the type of ‘modernisation’ as suggested by the City of Melbourne. You don’t have to travel far to see a successful modernisation of a market that retains the original charm, yet offers a better facility, visit the South Melbourne Market. Rather than suffocating it, the Port Phillip Council have celebrated it and attendance and trade figures are way up.
The there is the elephant in the room. Lying beneath the sheds are the remnants of Melbourne’s original cemetery. It has been suggested there could be thousands of unmarked and undocumented paupers’ graves that were simply not included in the re-interments at the Melbourne General Cemetery. Many of those buried in such a manner were Melbourne’s original indigenous inhabitants.
Flinders Station Update
The second project update is the Flinders St Station refurbishment. The signature Flinders St Domes are now waterproofed and repaired internally, as is the famous Victorian Railways Ballroom. It would seem our feathered friends have been busy.
Read about it here…
Flinders Street station dome cleaned for first time in a century in $100m restoration
More than 10 tonnes of bird poo has been removed from the dome of Melbourne’s Flinders Street station as part of restoration works.
The station is undergoing a $100 million makeover, with works expected to be finished by 2019.
Flinders Street station was built in 1910, and this is the first time in more than a century it has had significant cleaning and restoration works.
As part of the project, the building has been periodically covered with scaffolding as it is returned to its original colours.
The clock tower on Elizabeth Street was recently cleaned and restored, and Minister for Major Projects Jacinta Allan said cleaning and restoration on the iconic dome had been finished.
“The dome really is a symbolic part of Flinders Street station, indeed it could be said that it’s the international symbol of Melbourne,” she said.
The refuse was treated as hazardous waste and removed from inside the dome by a specialist company.
Roof repaired in the disused ballroom
The station’s neglected ballroom is somewhat legendary among Melbournians, and there have been plenty of proposals for its use, from hosting a craft market to crisis accommodation for the homeless.
The ballroom was in a state of dereliction, and work has been done to waterproof and stabilise its roof.
Ms Allan said no decisions had been made about how the ballroom and other spaces would be used once the works were complete.
“There’s certainly been plenty of ideas put forward,” she said.
Ms Allan said the works were not just about protecting the station’s history, but also to improve its useability.
“Flinders Street station is our busiest station – around 200,000 passenger movements go through this station every single week day, 26 million passenger movements a year,” she said.
Ten tonnes of Pigeon poop! Extraordinary!! Sounds like it could replace Nauru as a source of ‘superphosphate’. In reality it demonstrates the level of neglect this iconic landmark has endured over the last 100 years.
What will be interesting is to see what use this intriguing facility will eventually be put to. We wait with great interest. What the project does demonstrate is that with respect for Heritage listing, these wonderful old historic buildings can live again and provide us with both markers in our history and wonderful facilities for today’s and future generations.