Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle has unveiled key concepts for the $250 million Queen Victoria Market (QVM) renewal, the largest investment ever by the City of Melbourne.

Following from the City of Melbourne’s announcement last October about the renewal of the precinct, a range of proposals informed by the community of traders, shoppers, residents and visitors have been laid on the table for the public to comment on and add to.

Five key changes have been proposed, keeping in mind the preservation of the QVM’s heritage and authentic atmosphere, while allowing the evolution of the market precinct to meet the contemporary needs of traders and shoppers.

1. Below ground facilities – the City proposes to move existing car parking and storage underground to free up space in the heart of the market, although traders reportedly favour a multi-storey car park, believing it would be “safe, cheaper and less disruptive”.  However, creating basements under sheds A, B and C will mean more room is available for retail, hospitality and events.

2. Market experience – An expanded retail, hospitality, and activities offer will help to retain and enhance the QVM’s authentic character and experience. Improved back of house facilities for traders, such as cool rooms and waste disposal areas, are another consideration. Closing Queen Street to traffic to improve safety and create additional space for trading and the market community is another part of this proposal.

Current precinct

3. New public space – The existing car park will be replaced with a major public space, which will provide a meeting place for the community, as well as an area to acknowledge the history of the site as Melbourne’s first cemetery.

4. Franklin Street connection – Connecting Franklin Street to Dudley Street, and removing two roundabouts will ensure better traffic connections around the market. This is expected to reduce congestion, and make it easier for pedestrian traffic.

5. New development sites – According to Lord Mayor Doyle, the proposal to connect Franklin to Dudley Street will create a parcel of land on the southern end of the site suitable for mixed-use development. This is expected to generate funds for the market renewal precinct, with the land to be given to council by the state government.

Proposed future market precinct

The Age reports that chairman of the market’s board of management, Paul Guerra, has said the redevelopment is “the most difficult task in Melbourne today”, especially as protecting the market’s history and future viability is a key task. Council will seek UNESCO world heritage listing for the 135-year old market.

Work on the market will be conducted in stages to minimise disruption and inconvenience for customers, while access to parking and public transport will be maintained consistently throughout the upgrades.

The second round of community consultations is now open, and the public is invited to share their ideas about the specific proposals through a feedback form or forum. This second phase of engagement will run until 16 May 2014, with the precinct renewal master plan to be finalised by June 2015.