The City of Melbourne’s $250 million renewal of the Queen Victoria Market has been thrown into jeopardy following a decision by the state heritage body to reject a key part of the plan.
Heritage Victoria has rejected a plan to temporarily remove the shed structures, standing since 1878, in order to provide back of house logistic services and parking for traders, and to strengthen them.
In its judgement the authority said it could not be satisfied that the sheds could be returned to the original condition.
In a statement released on Tuesday afternoon, acting Lord Mayor Arron Wood said the council would appeal what he termed a “baffling decision”.
“The independent business case by SGS’s highly respected and regarded Marcus Spiller (April 2016) stated that the renewal project would spur a $1.2 billion net community benefit to Victoria,” Mr Wood said.
“The benefit to cost ratio is 5:1, which is extremely high. This compares with the Melbourne Metro Rail Project at 1.5:1.”
He said the council had been “blindsided” by Heritage Victoria’s decision, and that strengthening of the sheds was an occupational health and safety issue.
“If you don’t renovate and repair heritage structures they will crumble, fall and be lost forever,” he said.
“I find it hard to believe that they can restore the Parthenon but we can’t restore the heritage sheds at Queen Victoria Market.”
He also noted that the former chief executive of Heritage Victoria had written to the City that “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”.
“We have gone through every rigorous step in good faith: our only goal being to secure the market’s future forever,” Mr Wood said.
“It now seems the Queen Victoria Market will be loved to death.”
The market was this month awarded a 6 Star Green Star Communities rating, with features set to include:
- large scale waste and organic recycling facilities onsite to deal with the annual 6000 tonnes of solid and 60 tonnes of organic waste along with meat and offal waste
- solar power and battery storage to generate onsite renewable energy
- rainwater collection, stormwater harvesting and water recycling to reduce water consumption
- more public open space with planting, trees and water sensitive landscaping
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