"The proposed redevelopment (or "renewal" to use the Lord Mayor's term) of the Queen Victoria Market will cost $250 million. Does this signify the start of a new battle for inner Melbourne or has the populace been sweet talked by the Lord Mayor into accepting the demise of the QVM as we know it - and love it? And what are the traffic and transport implications for the CBD and inner Melbourne of this redevelopment?" (Submission from the Friends of Queen Victoria Market)
Future Melbourne Committee meeting 5:30 pm Tuesday 14 July
Submission from the Friends of Queen Victoria Market
I represent Friends of Queen Victoria Market, an active Facebook group with over 1300 ‘likes’.
In particular I want to speak on behalf of people like myself, the ‘customers’ who shop at the market every week.
• We spend hundreds of dollars at the market every week, and we do almost all our shopping there.
• Fresh produce vendors estimate we regular customers are responsible for 80% of their sales.
• We have ongoing relationships with traders and with other regular customers.
• The market is a significant element in our life and we are an important part of the market community – arguably THE most important part of the market community …
…. yet our voice has been lost in the consultation process.
We have been subsumed into a category of ‘visitors’ but we have quite different interests to the tourists and other occasional market shoppers.
Many of us made the points I make here were also made very vigorously in the consultation process but somehow our input has not made it into the final reports and feedback.
So I welcome this opportunity to represent our views.
Some of us have shopped at the market for decades and many are second or even third generation market customers.
We value the market heritage but we recognize that this extends beyond built heritage to an appreciation of the market as a trading and social space based on its functioning as a community space for small scale trading for over 150 years.
If the bulk of the present market area is remade as public space for events, pop up markets, curated ‘craft’ (just like so many other markets) and so on, the market will lose what is distinctive in its heritage, even if the buildings remain.
Our first requirement is that the market remains an everyday shopping place:
• We do not support plans to reduce fresh produce trading at the market to fewer, fixed stalls, as this will decrease quantity, range and variety of fresh produce.
• We do not see any benefit for customers in updating plant, storage, or trader parking.
• Increasing onsite cool rooms will kill the whole point of market fresh produce, as will extending the opening hours.
• Some members have suggested that changing the market from an everyday shopping experience to a tourist destination is a way of justifying reduced parking provision.
Our second interest is in accessible car parking:
• We travel in from surrounding suburbs because we appreciate the kind of sustainable, value for money and varied shopping currently available at the market but this is only viable if the market provides accessible parking.
• Better pedestrian and bicycle access is not helpful to many of us who buy 20 or 30 kilos of food each week.
• Others of us bring small children or elderly and disabled relatives.
• We support market traders who have told you that any decrease in the total number of parking places available (currently 1200 including on street parking) would be a disaster for them and us.
Finally we are alarmed at the lack of specificity in this Plan and that it is left to the Implementation Strategy which is scheduled for completion in 2016 to address a number of these matters.
This has left market traders and customers in a state of uncertainty in terms of their future plans.
Especially as the market seems to be being currently being run down, which some members believe is being done in order to support the case for renewal:
• There are many, many empty stalls.
• Unlike supermarkets or many other fresh produce markets in Melbourne, parking is extremely expensive.
• Recent vacancies in the iconic Dairy hall have been filled by franchises, not small independent traders.
• New initiatives that are supposed to revitalise the market like the Cooking School and Melbourne Music Week have not been well supported, according to some sources.
The market community, rightly or wrongly, has interpreted this running down of the traditional market as indications of a deliberate tactic to justify the repurposing of the sheds.
There is a widespread perception in the community that the main and indeed the only beneficiaries of the redevelopment plans are the developers who will access land within the Queen Victoria Market Precinct and benefit from the new planning rules.
Signed: Miriam Faine, Friends of Queen Victoria Market