Friday 3 October 2014

Council and Vic Market Traders Unite!

The following article has been presented by trader Catherine Underhill from McIvors Tea and Coffee Merchants.

"Council and Vic Market Traders Unite!
I never thought I would have that as my headline.

Over the last couple of weeks I have spent a fair amount of time writing to the planning minister Matthew Guy and Melbourne City Council about the land for sale on Therry St.   
The article contains a link to a document Council has prepared around their vision for the future development of the site. 

The re-development proposal put forward earlier in the year which includes (most contentiously) the demolition and rebuild of A, B, and C sheds, would no longer be necessary.   While I can understand why management felt this was the only and best option it clearly had no support from traders or customers.  This is hardly a great place to start a huge project. 

The fact that Council wants to   purchase this land is by no means a guarantee that it will happen.  And planning guidelines or overlays are no guarantee either.  You see, with planning all a developer has to do to shift responsibility for approval from Council to State is to put in a proposal that is larger than 25,000 sq. mtrs.   That is about a 6 story building on the site.  No one will propose that for a site that will cost in excess of 60 million.

So here is what we need to do fast: 
Write to council in support of the plan.  It doesn’t have to be fancy.  Just a simple message of support is fine.   Tell all of your friends, customers, family, whoever to do the same.
Here are their email addresses:

A copy of the proposal that I sent to Council and The Minister is below.  I must acknowledge that the main driver of these ideas is Peter Langtry from the Polish Deli.

Proposal for land use Therry St/Queen St and the Queen Victoria Market:

As you can see this is a sizable parcel of land:6,462sq with a combined street frontage of 162m.  Amazing.  This represents an extra ordinary opportunity for the City of Melbourne to radically alter the market precinct in a positive way, without being hamstrung by graveyards, space limitations and heritage.

Earlier this year a proposal was put forward to the people of Melbourne regarding refurbishment of the QVM.  It involves some positives – green space – and a massive negative.  The idea is to dig up A, B, and C sheds and put in a 712(?) space car park.  Theoretically like for like, but when you factor in the sale of land at the southern end of the market and the on street parking lost to that development the proposal is woefully inadequate.  Furthermore the disruption will have long term deleterious affect on the viability of the market.  Customers lost often don’t come back.  Tourists attending a market only populated by tourists soon leave.  And spread the word.

The availability of the property on Therry St changes all that.  My dream for that site:  A parking lot able to cope with peak demand.  Street level retail, and residential above – but stepped back so as not to overshadow.  How about if the walls of the parking lot were green walls – not ugly car park walls?  How about if the parking lot was designed so that it could be retro-fitted to residential so that when the day comes that we actually embrace public transport we can re-purpose the space.

To that end how about a central bus hub either at the new Franklin St end of the Market.  Or maybe it should be between the sheds and the new green space over the graveyard, replacing the current less than beautiful car park.

The availability of this land means we can invest for the next 100 years not just pull together a sub-standard option that has no support among traders or customers.  We need to bring everyone with us to make it work.  We need to think what will provide for our descendants.  That is what the original founders did, at great expense and with a lot of forethought.

It doesn’t matter how we get there, whether by legislation or by the City of Melbourne buying the land.   We just need to get there.  Council purchase is probably the best option.  After all, that is why we still have a market. "