Draft concepts have been released for the redevelopment of the iconic Queen Victoria Market (QVM) precinct in Melbourne.

Lord Mayor Robert Doyle unveiled the concepts last week, initiating the second round of community consultation for the revitalised QVM market model.

“From today until 16 May 2014, people can have their say on the current proposals and what they would like to see in the final designs,” he said.

The concepts showcase a significant expansion that could see surrounding streets closed for streamlined pedestrian, cyclist and commuter access. Car parking is set to move underground and there is a focus on increasing event and public space while still maintaining the QVM’s historical fabric.

queen victoria market

Oldest urban market in Australia

The renewal is also estimated to cost up to $250 million, making it the City of Melbourne’s largest investment in a project to date.

The draft has been informed by the community; late last year The City of Melbourne spoke to traders, shoppers, residents and visitors as the first part of the feedback engagement.

The strongest message received from the public demonstrated that there is a “deep sense of connection many people feel for the Queen Victoria Market,” which the city seeks to retain throughout the revitalisation.

The draft also considers the overall retail offerings, and contemplates the possibility of increasing the market’s hours.

There are also plans to upgrade surrounding infrastructure, facilities and accessibility along with a proposal to move existing car parking and storage underground. This will also align with working to improve the “back of house facilities” for traders, including cool rooms and convenient waste disposal.

Current Market Precinct

The current market precinct. Click on the image to view full version

Before the masterplan is developed, The City of Melbourne is inviting the community to provide comments on the draft concepts across six categories:

Heritage: QVM first opened in 1878 and is one of the only urban 19th century markets in Australia still intact and in operation.

QVM’s architecture reflects a Utilitarian style, with the façade of the prominent Meat Market hall by architect William Salway which features “thermal window between paired Roman Doric pilasters, each topped by a projecting entablature” according to a 2014 National Trust Report, 2014 QVM and Old Melbourne Cemetery report.

The community is invited to consider which part of the market they would like to retain.

Open Space: There is a plan to create a new public open space for the market and the city’s north, removing the existing carpark which currently sits land the Old Melbourne Cemetary site. Along with providing a meeting space for the community, this would also acknowledge the history of the site as Melbourne’s first cemetery. A green square is also under consideration.

Car Parking: The current open lot car park is set to move underground under sheds A, B anc C. In addition to offering storage, it will create public space and make room for traders, the public and events.

Future Market Precinct

The future market precinct. Click on the image to view full version.

Access: There is a proposal to close Queen Street and connect Franklin street to Dudley street, removing two roundabounts in a bid to increase safety and reduce traffic congestion for market traders and shoppers.

“Creating better traffic connections will make accessing the market easier,” Doyle said. “The proposal to connect Franklin Street to Dudley Street presents an opportunity to link the market with the central city and surrounding neighbourhood. It will also create a parcel of land suitable for development, generating funds for the market renewal project.”

Attractions: Along with the night market, which currently operates on Wednesday evenings in the late Spring/Summer period, the community is encouraged to offer event and activity ideas for the new spaces planned for QVM.

Retail, hospitality and services: Retail offerings are also a consideration, including the opportunity to for the market to increase trade more than its current five days. The community is asked to look beyond the current offerings and suggest services and products they would like to see at the predict.

There is also a plan for new development sites to create land suitable for mixed-use development. The funds raised through the development of land to the market’s south will be directed to the market renewal project.

A draft master plan will be released by end of 2014, with planning for implementation proposed for June 2015.

Master plan schedule

Master plan schedule. Click on the image to view full version.

QVM chair Paul Guerra said business continuity for traders was of the highest priority during the renewal.

“The board will be working closely with management to ensure we continue to provide the vibrant market experience Melburnians love and minimize disruption for traders and customers,” he said.

In a statement released last year, the project was expected to generate as many as 9,000 new jobs at the market along with 12,000 jobs in the surrounding precinct and thousands of construction jobs. There was also a prediction that the QVM would have 17 million annual visitors by 2031 according to Victoria Premier Denis Napthine.

Population in the area is also set to soar, with Doyle revealing last year that in the next 20 years, the number of people living within 800 metres of QVM will almost double from 67,000 to 128,000.

In a bid to preserve the history of the site, the City of Melbourne will also seek UNESCO World Heritage designation for the QVM following the renewal. If approved, QVM would join the Royal Exhibition Centre, the Sydney Opera House and 11 Australian convict sites also on the list.