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    Melbourne Council lodges application for new Queen Victoria Market designs

    Kirsty Sier

    Melbourne City Council has lodged an application with Heritage Victoria for Q2 of the $250-million Queen Victoria Market redevelopment project.

    New designs have been released by Grimshaw Architects which show proposed works to the market’s historic 19th-century sheds, specifically A, B, C and D. The plans would require the aboveground portion of the market where the sheds are located to be deconstructed, so that a three-level basement structure could be inserted underneath. After the basement is constructed, the sheds would be fully rebuilt and restored to retain their open-air structure, with additional improvements to make them more efficient.

    A major feature of the proposed plans is the insertion of glass lifts, which would, if approved, be installed in the sheds to connect the above-ground market with new underground facilities. The lifts and a proximate stairwell have been proposed to service visitors accessing the markets from a new underground car park. It would also provide improved access for vendors who are transporting goods to their aboveground stalls. Vendor access – which had previously been less than sub-standard – was one of the major considerations behind the $250-million redevelopment of the iconic markets. The new facilities would also include cool rooms and other vendor amenities.

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    “Through renewal we want to retain and restore the Queen Victoria Market’s heritage while improving facilities for traders, customers and visitors,” reads a statement on the City of Melbourne website. “Everything we do is about ensuring the market is viable for future generations of small business.”

    Grimshaw recently released designs for the glass lifts and surrounding mezzanine, which Melbourne City Council subsequently used in their application to Heritage Victoria. Images show plans for both the aboveground and underground aspects of the proposed access insertions.

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    The operational underground sheds that would be served by the new lifts and stair facilities – Sheds A and D – will deliver a combined total of 26,000sqm of new floor space to the Queen Victoria Market. This floor area would include a new mezzanine with dedicated trader amenities; capacity for larger vehicles; dedicated trader loading, unloading and parking; cool rooms and food preparation areas; recycling and waste management facilities; 220 customer car parking spaces with lift access; and an additional 500 customer car park to be located at the Munro site.

    According to the City of Melbourne council, the new designs mean that it will be possible to reduce the planned market pavilion space – to be designed by Breathe Architecture – to 120 metres, almost half the size of its original proposal.

    Local action group Friends of Queen Victoria Market have already opposed the new designs. In a post made to their Facebook page yesterday, they quoted the historic Burra Charter – the nationally accepted standard for heritage conservation in Australia – in claiming that the proposed designs are unnecessary in scale and use.

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    “The proposal to dismantle, restore and reinstate sections of sheds A,B,C & D will significantly alter the history and heritage of the market. The proposed car and truck ramp through D Shed to the underground area means a large wall will cut across the current sheds blocking access. Floor to ceiling lift and ventilation shafts protruding above the roof line will present additional obstacles to customer circulation,” says the group.

    “The Burra Charter (which the Heritage Council endorses) suggests that good conservation requires “a cautious approach of changing as much as necessary but as little as possible” (Article 3). This proposal does far more than changing only as much as necessary.”

    In July this year, Victorian planning minister Richard Wynne approved Melbourne City Council’s proposal for the $250-million redevelopment on the condition that the height of a proposed 196-metre tower be dramatically reduced.

    The City of Melbourne will have new plans for Q2 of the Queen Victoria Market redevelopment on public display until 25 October 2017.

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