At Tuesday night’s meeting of city councillors the QVM Draft Master Plan was being considered and a presentation by one of our traders was commended by a number of councillors including the Lord Mayor.
Cathy Underhill’s presentation was described as informative and concise. Presenters are allowed just 3 minutes to get across their views and here is the text from Cathy’s written submission to Council. Her verbal presentation varied slightly from the text shown here -
Lord Mayor, Councillors and stakeholders.
On behalf of the traders I would like to thank you for your commitment to the QVM. We welcome the idea of green space, sustainability, childcare and community space. We welcome better toilets, traffic flow, storage. All of it.Getting there is a little scary though
We need to be very careful that in a rush to renew the market we don’t forget the things that make the market work, that our desire for order doesn’t sterilize the unlikely synergies developed through the years. Why is there a take away next to a tea shop. I don’t know. Why is there a remaindered goods stall in the fruit sheds - Who knows, but I bet that each of these businesses profits by their location.A phrase that pops up repeatedly in the plan is “finalise the retail mix”. We need to make sure logic doesn’t kill the kismet.
“Support emerging businesses” is a primary strategic direction. That is a far more complex than it seems. How do you do that? Multi-location, formulaic businesses have no place in the market. Their economies of scale kill competition.Ensuring that the market remains a home to family and micro business requires policy.
There is an inherent danger in trying to force change. Prahran Market trade dropped 30% after the renovation and still hasn’t recovered according to traders. Docklands and South Wharf show that if you build it they might not come. We must be careful that our change is an evolution and not a tsunami.
In the lead up to the renewal don’t ignore the market. We need to gain customers before we torture them with construction. The worst thing we could do at this point would be to halt expenditure. QVM need to start doing the smaller easier projects. Market apps, interactive information booths, Trial different methods of weather protection, or opening hours.Beautify the street fronts. And please, can we start looking at heritage colours differently and get away from those slightly diarrhoea tinged colours as a baseline. Think France and their markets...
Looking at the Capire report questions on parking it appears that traders think parking is far more important than customers, but when you dig a little the customer response is more nuanced.It is quite possible that all the people who said improved pedestrian amenity was important also said improved car parking was important. The respondents were not limited to one answer and the difference was 38 responses. More importantly the people who were not at the market did not have a voice. The customers already lost due to high car parking costs and the incremental loss of street parking. Eventually the city of Melbourne will be virtually car free but we are a long way from that yet. Our customer base is continually dribbling away because of difficulties in parking. We need real constructive help with this now.
Finally, I ask Council and the Board to examine how they view the market and measure success. Is the market a purely financial asset?If you judge it by increases in revenue it will fail. Judge it by the success of the micro businesses and start ups. Judge it by the variety of people who feel ownership – rich, poor, immigrant, 6th generation, tourist or local. Judge it by it’s diversity. We hold in in trust. We don’t own it.
Cathy is a QVM Dairy Hall Representative from McIver's Coffee & Tea Merchants.
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14/06/2015 10:18:14 Presentation! "Cathy Underhill you said it sooo succinctly I hope in earnest they adhere to what u say on behalf of the traders."