City of Melbourne releases draft guidelines and buys Munro site

Block Plan - Therry, Elizabeth, Franklin and Queen Streets.
Block Plan - Therry, Elizabeth, Franklin and Queen Streets.

City of Melbourne recently released a development control document consisting of a series of design guidelines for the site bound by Therry, Elizabeth, Franklin and Queen Streets. This precedes the release of the draft masterplan for the Queen Victoria Market Precinct Renewal due for community engagement in May 2015.

In part the guidelines were drafted to help inform future development of the block, but with a focus on what is known as the 'Munro site'. The 6,462 square metre site is defined by of a series of old red-brick buildings housing a supermarket, cafes, antique shops and even a Mr Burger. This morning, the City of Melbourne announced that it was the successful bidder for the Munro site paying $76,000,000 (plus transaction costs) with settlement on July 1, 2015. Savills City Sales & Investments directors Clinton Baxter and Nick Peden facilitated the deal.

The site is illustrated below within its context.

City of Melbourne releases draft guidelines and buys Munro site
'Munro site' highlighted as part of the greater site. © City of Melbourne

The block bounded by Therry, Franklin, Elizabeth and Queen streets has always played an important part in the Queen Victoria Market precinct.

This parcel of land is currently for sale. The City of Melbourne believes it is of major strategic importance for the city and the future of the market precinct as we embark on a suite of renewal projects for the market and its surrounds.

The City of Melbourne has drafted development guidelines for developers and decision makers who may have an interest in purchasing or developing the site.

The purpose of these development guidelines is to support a best practice approach for the development of the site, consistent with the principles underpinning the renewal of the precinct.

Council has resolved to provide the guidelines to the real estate agent managing the sale of the site, for the attention of those submitting an Expression of Interest to purchase and also to make the guidelines publically available.

Council also resolved that a request be made to the vendor and the real estate agent for the EOI period to be extended to ensure any interested parties have time to consider the guidelines.

City of Melbourne

Key themes and desired outcomes

The document is structured into four sections consisting of key themes or desired outcomes which are supplemented by a series of preferred outcomes accompanied by an outlining rationale for each point.

Building envelope

  • Munro Site currently for sale
  • Heritage Overlays affecting the block
  • Retain and restore key buildings: Avoid tabula rasa development
  • Mandatory Max. and Min. Podium: Heights to street frontages
  • Central Zone: Set at least 10m back from street frontages

Access and precinct car park

  • Create Mid-Block Pedestrian Link: to promote access for all
  • Existing Crossovers Required: but minimise traffic in QVM Heart
  • Accommodate QVM Parking: one of multiple sites

Streetscape and frontages

  • Wrap Inactive Uses : carparking in usable building space
  • Activate Pedestrian Mid-Block Link

Sustainability and architectural design quality

  • Sustainability and Architectural Design Quality

Other preferences

The guidelines set out a preferred minimum 20 metre and maximum 30 metre podium height similar to nearby Melbourne Terrace, with any height greater than 20m to be setback from streets by 10m. This would provide an active wrap to the potential relocation of 400 public car spaces onsite from the current QVM carpark.

Council also wishes to avoid a 'tabula rasa' development scenario where the site is essentially treated as a clean slate, thus avoiding demolition of significant structures. Instead a more integrated development approach is encouraged which promotes cross site links for pedestrians between Therry and Franklin Street's as it is one of very few blocks in the CBD lacking any form of continuous north-south mid-block public pedestrian links.

Purchase Announcement

Prolific tweeter Cr. Stephen Mayne this morning made the following comments about the purchase by Melbourne City Council.

Comment

It is refreshing to see a council get on the front foot and set a series of parameters for a key site within the city. Charting out the type of development that council expects for the site which if adhered could see a rather smooth planning and approvals process whilst also providing developers and the public with some level of certainty surrounding the site. Even more refreshing is when council considers the site to be of enough significance to warrant purchasing the site themselves as has been observed this morning to facilitate renewal of another key city asset in the Queen Victoria Market.

It would be a beneficial exercise for similar guidelines to be drafted by councils around metropolitan Melbourne on other key sites that come up for sale, but I feel where the guidelines are somewhat lacking is in the best practice and benchmarking which sees the lack any examples/exemplary projects, but without necessarily being too prescriptive. Keeping in mind that while the concept of 'good' design may be a rather subjective notion, it is one that should be encouraged, pursued and fostered.

The inclusion of a requirement for the design of any proposed development to be reviewed during various stages of the design process by the Office of the Victorian Architect Design Review Panel is a step in the right direction as well.

On September 30th City of Melbourne resolved to approve the guidelines and with their purchase of the site are now to be implemented. The outcome will be quite interesting and it may set a template for future development of consolidated sites.

The full development guidelines document and Council's recommendation relating to the adoption of the guidelines are available from the City of Melbourne website.

Laurence Dragomir

Laurence Dragomir

Laurence Dragomir is one of the co-founders of Urban Melbourne. Laurence has developed a wealth of knowledge and experience working in both the private and public sector specialising in architecture, urban design and planning. He also has a keen interest in the built environment, cities and Star Wars.

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City of Melbourne Queen Victoria Market

Comments (15)

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bilby
The issue you raise, I would see it more in terms of percentages, Nicholas. Once we lose a certain percentage of heritage building stock from a particular era (say the 1960s, as you suggest as an end date), then yes, it would be prudent to consider listing what remains, because pretty soon we will have no significant buildings represented from that particular era in the Melbourne CBD. Matthew Guy says he doesn't want to see Melbourne 'awash' with them, but how many actually remain. Can you name any? And as a percentage of Victorian Melbourne, what remains is likewise very low - so yes, I think we should retain and creatively adapt every last Victorian era building still standing in the Melbourne CBD. Why not?
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nwharr
Should we ban the demolition of any building left in Melbourne from before a certain date, say 1960?
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bilby
Yes, we could have 'quarantined' the world's last great intact Victorian city - but we didn't. So my attitude now is to protect and adaptively reuse the heritage built form that remains. A good analogy would be the renovation of an old Victorian terrace house. Do you go in, gut it and remove all the original cast iron fireplaces, cornices, remaining existing plaster and brickwork, and replace with plasterboard, sparkly downlights and concrete floors? Or do you carefully retain and repair what is there and extend the building in a contemporary but sensitive manner? The best renovations just about always reuse and repair important heritage elements. We should do the same with Melbourne and the Munro site next to the Queen Victoria Market.
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Riccardo's picture
Bilby I'm not sure it matters either way. Hachinohe markets look ti be mid 80s, of no special architectural merit yet do the job well. When I look south along William St i see a cluster of 80s mid rise offices of no special look. Along Franklin and north Queen all sorts of odds and sods. More consistent heritage along Dudley or Victoria. On Peel all sorts of forgettable 80s low rise. If you were looking for a full heritage precinct, this ain,t it. Which brings me to my pet topic for heritage enthusiasts. Paris, and to some extent London, were able to completely quarantine whole slabs of these cities from random ad hoc low quality modernism, but Melbourne did not. Why? Docklands shut down in the 60s when containers came in yet sat idle till the 90s. Why? You could have like Paris, confined the glass curtain walls to there. Re markets, Melbourne labours under the burden of believing it needs multiple 'iconic' (i hate this word) markets at Qvm, prahran, south melb etc. one good one would be better. They don't even specialise. Melb never got the idea of a fish market right and fit for retail like Sydney.
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bilby
Fair enough, Riccardo - but would knocking over most the heritage buildings for an above ground carpark and residential towers next to the Vic Market add to or diminish its potential as a great market site?
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