Council backs new tower near Queen Vic Market

By Sean Car

The City of Melbourne has endorsed development plans for a multi-project site at the corner of Queen St and Franklin streets in the Queen Victoria Market precinct, with one of the sites progressing with a 20-storey residential tower. 

Two concurrent council motions at the June 15 Future Melbourne Committee (FMC) meeting saw councillors unanimously support a development plan for multiple sites, paving the way for a new development at 432-450 Queen St. 

The proposal by developer Golden Age (QVM Development Pty Ltd), which will now go before Minister for Planning Richard Wynne for approval, would include 129 high-end apartments, as well as a voluntary contribution of 13 affordable rental apartments. 

Six ground floor retail tenancies are also included, with the Bates Smart designed proposal seeking to demolish two of the three existing heritage buildings, while the third, considered to be of higher heritage value, will be largely retained. 

An east-west laneway separates the two parcels of land that councillors considered under the development plan along which council officers advocated to lower the laneway’s street wall height from 40 to 20 metres. 

The building is located next to the nearly completed Munro development and connected to the future “Munro Square” at rear via a network of laneways, which the council’s chair of planning Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece said could become “famous”. 

“We want the network of laneways in this quarter of QVM precinct to sit alongside other famous laneways of Melbourne such as the Flinders Lane precinct or Guilford Lane,” Cr Reece said. 

“That is why we have required more of the heritage red brick walls and bluestone laneways to be retained as part of this development. The message to developers with proposals for this precinct is clear: we will be standing firm to protect and enhance this wonderful network of laneways.” 

However, some neighbouring residents and heritage advocates raised concerns with the proposal at the meeting, with Melbourne Terrace residents suggesting it was an “overdevelopment” which would block sunlight to their homes. 

Melbourne Heritage Action president Tristan Davies also said that the proposal didn’t “adequately respond to heritage concerns”, arguing the demolition of what were previously “D-graded” heritage buildings set a dangerous precedent for the city. 

But the council’s heritage portfolio chair and deputy planning lead Cr Rohan Leppert said the two low-grade buildings had “limited architectural interest” and that there was no way of providing any integrity through retention. 

“The buildings are too small and too degraded,” he said. 

Councillors Reece and Leppert commended the developer and architect for the lengths that they had gone to in preserving heritage fabric in their proposal, with the two-storey C-graded brick warehouse at 432-438 Queen St to be largely retained. 

Cr Leppert said the council would also “invest heavily” in the future Munro Square. 

Fresh produce point of sale storage endorsed

The June 15 FMC also saw councillors unanimously endorse a suite of storage and refrigeration units for fresh produce traders at QVM. 

The dry storage and cool room and refrigeration options, informed by “extensive trader engagement” during the past 18 months, could be made available to traders by the end of this year. 

A report from council management stated, “traders will be able to select a combination of modules to suit their storage requirements. A co-contribution arrangement will be put in place to assist traders’ transition to the new storage options.”

“Traders are under no obligation to take up these solutions; however, all traders will be required to meet relevant statutory standards relating to food safety.”

General manager of operations at QVM Mark Bullen told councillors that the storage units would be temporary with no fixing into the ground or sheds and made of robust materials for the market’s open-air environment.  

“These will sit underneath and not dominate their point of sale,” Mr Bullen said. “We understand the difficulties they face in an open-air market.”

QVM CEO Stan Liacos said considerable research had been conducted into markets across the world in order to establish the best outcome for traders. 

“There are very few [markets] that are in an as open-air environment at QVM. In our open-air environment, we need more storage that is rodent proof, and weather proof,” he said. 

“The markets we liaise with regularly have far better storage facilities than we do.”

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the storage and refrigeration was “much-needed”. 

“People [traders] can make a point of difference and the market can keep its open character,” she said. 

Cr Leppert said while important market renewal documentation required updating, he said the council was approving units based on “extensive engagement”. 

The council will also seek Heritage Victoria’s advice on guidelines for what best point of sale storage should look like •

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