Community invited to have their say on Queen Victoria Market’s “people’s park”

Brendan Rees

The City of Melbourne has officially launched community consultation for a 1.8-hectare park proposed for the Queen Victoria Market, which would be the largest of its kind in the CBD. 

Under the plan, the existing open-air car park bordered by Franklin, Queen, and Peel streets would be transformed into a public square as part of a $1.7 billion redevelopment of the southern end of the market by the council and global property developer Lendlease.

Known as the “people’s park”, the council said it would be a “welcoming, green space for people to savour the market experience”, while also being a place to “relax with family and friends and enjoy events and activations that will complement the historic market”.

To ensure the park meets the needs and desires of locals, the council is seeking feedback from the community on 11 design principles for the square, which it said would respond to the Market Square Charter and extensive community engagement.

Charters are developed as a tool for managing public places to ensure the intended vision for the space is realised and protected.

Proposed features for the park include an expansive lawn, native plants to improve biodiversity in the city, large trees to provide shade, a plaza to host events, and a play space.

A “garden of acknowledgement” is also planned and would be developed in partnership with Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation and Aboriginal Melbourne.

Another feature would be paving, planting and “ways of moving through the park to respectfully acknowledge the original cemetery”.

Community members will also have the chance to provide feedback on the proposed Queen’s Corner Building, which would provide amenities for traders and the community, as well as provide areas for activations and creative experiences.

Engagement is now open and runs until Sunday, October 8. The council will host a range of activities, including pop-up sessions and stakeholder workshops.

“A new Market Square will transform our city’s north – creating a wide range of community spaces to boost visitation and improve the way Melburnians experience the iconic Queen Victoria Market precinct,” Lord Mayor Sally Capp said.

“We have an exciting vision for our ‘people’s park’, and we want to ensure our ideas resonate with the community, who’ll be making the most of this spectacular new city space.”

According to the council, ideas already raised for Market Square include respecting and fostering Aboriginal voices and connections to the place, as well as provide a place for quiet activities, respite and contemplation while respecting the city’s first cemetery at the site, and the continued presence of these burials. 

The major redevelopment of the southern end of the market includes a proposal to build three towers (with the tallest being 49 storeys high) consisting of build-to-rent units, affordable housing, student accommodation and offices. 

The existing heritage Franklin St stores on Franklin St would also be restored. However, the proposal has sparked concern from the community that the high-rise developments would “overwhelm and dominate the market”.

Construction is expected to begin in early 2024 and be completed in 2028, subject to planning and heritage approvals. •

To have your say on the project, visit Participate Melbourne.

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