City of Melbourne lambaste Heritage Victoria, Queen Vic Market development "loved to death"

City of Melbourne lambaste Heritage Victoria, Queen Vic Market development "loved to death"
City of Melbourne lambaste Heritage Victoria, Queen Vic Market development "loved to death"

City of Melbourne did not mince their words last night in reacting to Heritage Victoria's refusal to allow Council to temporarily remove heritage sheds in order to facilitate the wider Queen Victoria Market rejuvenation.

Citing uncertainty as to whether the sheds could be returned to their original condition, coupled with the belief that the overall character of the market would be unacceptably altered, Heritage Victoria made their choice.

In response, a statement was circulated by Acting Lord Mayor Arron Wood conveying Council's dismay at Heritage Victoria's decision, which appears to be a backflip relative to earlier negotiations. Warning that Queen Victoria Market was at risk of being "loved to death", the bulk of the statement reads as follows:

Government bureaucracy now threatens the viability of the entire Queen Victoria Market Precinct Renewal Program. We will appeal this baffling decision which puts 60,000 future jobs, a new public open space and vital community facilities at risk.

The independent business case by SGS's highly respected and regarded Marcus Spiller stated that the renewal project would spur a $1.2 billion net community benefit to Victoria.

The benefit to cost ratio is 5:1 which is extremely high. This compares with the Melbourne Metro Rail Project at 1.5:1.

Heritage Victoria's decision has blindsided us: they have not consulted SGS to interrogate the veracity of their assessments. The public have a right to see the business case upon which Heritage Victoria have made this decision but this has been a closed door, bureaucratic process.

Strengthening of the heritage sheds must occur: it is an OHS issue, they are at danger of buckling during strong winds. If you don't renovate and repair heritage structures they will crumble, fall and be lost forever.

I find it hard to believe that they can restore the Parthenon but we can't restore the heritage sheds at Queen Victoria Market. 

Acting Lord Mayor Arron Wood

The statement went on to mention that Council and the State Government both deem the renewal integral to the market's long-term viability, but based on Heritage Victoria's decision the business case for the renewal has changed significantly. This is particularly the case for Council-controlled Queen Victoria Market Pty Ltd which is overseeing the project.

A significant financial impost would be in turn placed upon Council's forecast budgets for the next 30 years.

Ramping up its dismay, City of Melbourne make note that "more than 60 comprehensive studies have been undertaken for every aspect of renewal including economic assessment and business cases, heritage studies, thematic studies, retail plans, masterplans, conservation and cultural heritage plans, structural and sustainability plans."

Furthermore council has effectively called Heritage Victoria hypocritical regarding their decision, noting that the former CEO of Heritage Victoria wrote to the City of Melbourne during 2016 stating "we understand the rationale for this and accept your advice that there is a need to treat the structures off-site and also to ensure their structural strengthening."

Beyond Council's initial reaction, an appeal to the Heritage Council is being prepared in order to effectively save the redevelopment.

Lead image: CBD News

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Queen Victoria Market

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