"Long Term Gain/ Short Term Pain – submission to Future Melbourne Committee – 12/8/2014 – Agenda Item 6.6 – QVM Precinct Renewal.
When traders approached our Lord Mayor a few years ago requesting that something be done about the state of business at QVM we didn't quite expect that we would be launched into a full-on renewal.
We knew that some changes would be required. Global retailing has gone through an upheaval. Major players have fallen by the wayside. The category of public markets has suffered significant decline with many long term markets seriously challenged. Adapting to the impact of a new consumerism is proving very difficult. Just ask our major department stores.
The CoM saw a renewal as the way forward for QVM and the financing of up to $250m is a very welcome ingredient. Traders understand that key infrastructure like weather proofing our market and creating enjoyable public areas don’t come from pocket money. We understand that change will be needed if we are to get more people to our market. We understand that the key to getting more people is to be relevant to today’s consumers, and even better to become an irresistible magnet to locals and visitors. We are confident that we all understand the renewal of a public retail market has special ingredients that are quite different to mainstream retailing. The long term gain to our market and its traders from a well resourced renewal is enticing.
But there will be short term pain. Item 1 in the major components of the Community Engagement is “Adaption and enhancement of Upper Market Sheds A, B and C, to support market trading.” That translates to an underground car park – a major construction undertaking, going down 3 or 4 floors with accompanying noise, dust, barriers, vehicles, and general obstruction. And we won’t be able to escape that. Traders will be attempting to conduct business nearby, maybe within 20 metres.
Did I say “short term pain”? Guesstimates on the time necessary to achieve such a construction range from 1 to 4 years. Modest, fragile businesses recovering from a GFC, in the middle of a period of new consumerism, are not ready for, and may not survive, business interference of this type. And our problem is that we haven’t gone into any detail about what a temporary market next to a construction zone will involve. In a sense, this timing is all wrong. We should have thrashed out an understanding of what a temporary market might be like before you were asked to consider this proposal. All we can do at this stage is wave a red flag and say there are major issues for us and we are ready, willing and able to sit down and work through them in a collaborative way.
An audio version of the council meeting can be found here (the QVM proposal starts 1:42:20 into the meeting) - http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/AboutCouncil/Meetings/CouncilMeetingAudio/FMC-meeting-12-August-2014-City-of-Melbourne.mp3