Plans to redevelop the Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market have been approved by the Victorian government, which has capped the height limit of the nearby apartment tower at 125 metres.
The height is 70 metres less than then developers of the adjacent Munro site, bounded by Therry and Queen streets, wanted for an apartment and hotel tower in order to pay to redevelop the historic market, but ends the impasse between the government and the City of Melbourne, which has been pushing the $650 million redevelopment of the largest open-air market in the southern hemisphere.
Planning minister Richard Wynne said new planning controls for the site include strict heritage controls to protect the market with existing height controls over the market sheds and fresh food halls maintained.
“We’ve given careful consideration to get this amendment right. It’s all about striking a balance between the need for development and rejuvenation and protecting the market’s heritage,” he said.
“Queen Victoria Market and its history means so much to so many people. We’ll never compromise it.”
Lord Mayor Robert Doyle had previously warned that the market redevelopment was at risk if the tower proposal by developer PDG Corporation, on land the council paid $76 million for, was not approved by June, but today appeared mollified, despite the cut in height from 58 stories to around 45.
Community housing planned for the original proposal will be moved to the Mercator site.
An independent panel had recommended a 100m height limit for the site, but the develop had been seeking to nearly double that figure – a move that raised concerns amid market traders worried the size and scope of the proposed tower would destroy the area’s heritage. They had lobbied to sack the market’s board of management over the plan.
“The recently released independent business case leaves us in no doubt that doing nothing at Queen Victoria Market is not an option. The future of the market is at risk and we must get on with this renewal to secure its future,” the lord mayor said.
“I am pleased that the Victorian Government’s announcement today will enable us to get on with delivering the biggest project the City of Melbourne has ever undertaken.”
The government says the redevelopment will create 2,500 jobs during construction, and create a precinct with more than 60,000 jobs.
The redevelopment features new cold storage facilities, power, and modern toilets, as well as improved car parking and pedestrian access. The existing carpark is built over Melbourne’s original cemetery.
The car park will become a 1.5 hectare public space.
Queen Victoria Market has traded since 1878 and now attracts about 10 million visitors annually.
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