Sunday 8 January 2012

Traders Make Submission To Council

Traders have made their own submission to The Melbourne City Council on a new Strategic Planning Draft that impacts on the northern end of the city. 
The MCC started public consultation on a new planning strategy for City North back in September 2010. It would appear that no changes are envisioned to planning regulations for the Queen Victoria Market itself but the market does feature many times throughout the draft plan.
The draft plan is currently being considered by council and will be put before the Future Melbourne Committee on 7th February. For reasons that will be obvious to you once you read our letter, we felt it necessary to make a submission on behalf of General Merchandise Traders.

Email To Melbourne City Council - Strategic Planning - 6/1/2012

Dear Sirs,
            We represent  General Merchandise Traders at The Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne. General Merchandise Traders are a majority group at the QVM who retail a variety of products including clothing, footwear, fashion accessories, gifts, souvenirs, household items and jewellery.
            Our interest in the City North Structure Plan is dominated by two issues. Firstly the lack of consultation on the plan and its implications for hundreds of individual businesses operating at The Queen Victoria Market, and secondly the lack of attention given to the unique nature of our trading at the market.

1. Consultation – Hundred’s of individual businesses operate at The Queen Victoria Market and we believe they all qualify as key stakeholders in issues that specifically impact on the market. We understand that community consultation on the City North Structure Plan began in September 2010. General Merchandise Traders received their first advice just two days prior to the Information Meeting on 26th May 2011. The offer to attend was made by MCC through the QVM. It then took an approach by us direct to Sarah Oberklaid of MCC Strategic Planning in late November 2011 to have us included on the relevant MCC mailing list. We are now receiving mailings on the Structure Plan and we thank Sarah for including us. Our point is that key stakeholders were not briefed on the implications of the City Structure Plan nor invited to participate in a meaningful way.

2. Unique Nature of Market Trading – We understand that there are issues of business operation at The Queen Victoria Market that do not go to the core of a Structure Plan. However, the constant reference throughout the draft plan to the food content of the market’s offering (see extracts from the draft plan below) and its relevance to local and community groups does not give the full picture and could, if left unattended, create a misleading impression of the market’s role in Melbourne.
The comprehensive, rich and varied offering in the fruit, vegetable, dairy, poultry, meat, fish, and delicatessen food areas of the market are significant and unique. However they only represent around 40% of the businesses at the market. General Merchandise Traders, on the other hand represent around 60% of the market. In other words, the majority of traders do not sell fresh food. To consider or describe the market as primarily a source of fresh food is inaccurate and misleading. It excludes from consideration the majority of traders and their ongoing contribution to the market and the city.

More importantly it ignores a large slice of the customer base. Over 70% of General Merchandise customers are tourists – mainly interstate, some regional, and some international. These tourists come to the market for an overall market experience but we believe the bulk of their purchasing is done at the top end of the market not in the food section. The food offering provided by the QVM is an important and integral part of the overall market, but it is just one part of a complex market structure.

In a broader sense the market is a multi-faceted, unique historical business structure that has evolved, almost organically, to create an institution not found anywhere in Australia. The market is one of Melbourne's major features of differentiation which has contributed and continues to contribute to making Melbourne a place to visit,  shop,  and come back to. Shopping centres are found in all states but the market helps make Melbourne special and competitive.

The market serves Melbourne directly giving locals access to fresh produce and a huge variety of general merchandise goods as well as attracting regional, interstate, and overseas visitors. The market is certainly a "cultural icon", but it is much more than that –

o   It is a 7.5 hectare historical site operating continuously and adhering to its original purpose for 130 plus years.
o   It is a significant economic base for over 800, mainly family run, small businesses.
o   It is a famous tourist attraction and destination.

The Queen Victoria Market is certainly a unique feature of Melbourne, but it is fragile and changes should take place with full consultation, sensitivity, and an understanding of its unique makeup. 

In conclusion, we would like the above points to be duly noted by Council, the Future Melbourne Committee, and all other relevant bodies involved in the development of future plans and regulations affecting The Queen Victoria Market. We respectfully request that, going forward, there be appropriate engagement with representatives of General Merchandise Traders of The Queen Victoria Market in any and all discussions which could impact on the future of the market and its precinct.

Respectfully Yours,

John Magno
Michael Presser
Ivano Guseli
Greg Smith

Strategies pg 83
Strategy 1
Establish integrated and accessible community hubs

Queen Victoria Market precinct
The Queen Victoria Market is a key focus for the local community and a key cultural and tourist attraction which is located on a 7 hectare site in the heart of the growing City North.
There is a significant opportunity to enhance the Queen Victoria Market’s role as a local centre and destination by enhancing the provision of community, cultural and social activities in the vicinity. These functions will complement the operations of the market and support the needs of the growing local community.
The integration of community facilities and services within the Queen Victoria Market should focus on enhancing its significant role as a market for fresh produce and community gathering and event space in the northern end of the city. This has potential to build on the capacity of the market as a centre for locally produced food
and education, including cooking and nutrition, and sustainable resource consumption. This also has the potential to strengthen the facilities and services provided in proximity at the Multicultural Hub.

Page 196
Discussion to explain responseThe City of Melbourne's long term strategy for Queen Victoria Market will identify ways to develop and enhance the market’s role in light of the city’s growth, community needs and consumer trends.  The City of Melbourne wants to secure the future of the market and ensure its ongoing viability and relevance in a time of rapid change. The City of Melbourne is working with market management, the State Government and other stakeholders to develop initiatives that will position QVM to keep pace and compete with other retailers and ensure that QVM remains a great place for Melburnians to shop and come together long into the future. The enhancement of the market will not take place overnight. The City of Melbourne is taking a long-term approach to ensure that any changes made to this precious landmark are well considered and made with minimal impact to the people who currently trade at and use the market. The renewal of the market is likely to stretch over the next decade.