Lord Mayor Robert Doyle has politely told opponents of the council’s Queen Victoria Market (QVM) redevelopment that he won’t be taking on their alternative development plan.
At the council’s August 15 Future Melbourne Committee meeting, Cr Doyle said: “We thank you for your passion and the work you have put into it. We are set, I think, on a particular track. I wouldn’t want to give you hope that we would deviate from five years of very hard work.”
The plan was the previous evening presented to 200 interested people at a public meeting at the Drill Hall in Therry St.
Chaired by failed lord mayoral candidate Phil Cleary, the meeting heard that:
Planning Minister Richard Wynne had asked for the alternative plan;
The plan would cost $130 million and would take 12-15 months to construct; and
Adoption of the plan would avoid the need to remove heritage sheds and excavate beneath them.
Architects John McNabb and Jennifer Gomes designed the plan for Friends of Queen Victoria Market.
They said their design would see the creation of a sky park for recreational and educational uses for up to 1100 people.
“The above-ground, weather-proof car park will be covered in plants. It basically provides a community concourse with lift access. It can be used for concerts, performances, gardening demonstrations and functions,” Mr McNabb said.
The plan also features the use of renewable energy including solar panels and biodegradable waste management.
Mr Cleary told the crowd the dispute over the market redevelopment would, ultimately be determined in the political arena.
“Politics will win this battle,” he said. “We need to mind Richard Wynne and (Premier) Daniel Andrews that if they go with Doyle on this they will have trouble at the coming Victorian election.”
Mr Cleary invited attendees to sign up for a community picket line. He said commitment was sought from people willing to put themselves in front of construction equipment. Mr Cleary later told CBD News that some 30 people had signed up.
Former Heritage Victoria executive director Ray Tonkin told the meeting too little emphasis was being put on social aspects of heritage.
“Melbourne City Council needs to take another look at what is significant about the place,” he said.
Introduced as a market expert, Dr Jane Stanley told the meeting that the QVM generated $1 billion annual economic benefit – equivalent of the University of Melbourne.
She said consumers were rediscovering the value of markets.
Trader Stan Graczyk supported the alternative plan. He described it has “low risk” for traders and said uncertainty surrounding the market meant that no one was “championing” the market.