Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market set for major upgrade

Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market set for major upgrade

14 July 2017

Melbourne’s most-visited tourist destination, the Queen Victoria Market (QVM), is set to receive a controversial upgrade after Planning Minister Richard Wynne approved the project this week, reports The Australian.

The approval follows the recent release of a SGS Economics and Planning report that concluded the $250 million redevelopment proposal could deliver $1.2 billion in net benefits to the community.

According to the report, a “business as usual” approach would require that ratepayers subsidise the market’s operations by $100 million over the next 30 years.

An alternative “limited” renewal option would deliver only a $30 million NPV benefit.

“Full renewal is the only option that delivers the highest return and is the only option that does not see the city subsidise the market over the next 30 years,” City of Melbourne chief executive Ben Rimmer told the Australian Financial Review.

“It also has a very high benefit to cost ratio of 5.5 to 1. Typically, we do projects that have a benefit to cost ratio of 1.2 to 1.4 to one.”

In a separate report in The Australian, Mr Rimmer added that the full renewal option would produce the highest return and would earn the council about $10 million over the next 30 years.

This would effectively allow the council to break even, he said.

“The option of doing nothing is an option that will see the market decline, perhaps irretrievably,” he added.

The business case in the SGS report shows that $1.1 million is being spent each year on repairs and maintenance for the market, which has operated continuously since 1878, notes The Age.

The council released the report amid a high-profile campaign against the scheme, which was a major battleground in last year’s council election.

Former prime minister Paul Keating, for example, attacked the council’s plan to fund the redevelopment by building a 200-metre skyscraper next to the market.

Accordingly, the council plans were adjusted to include two tower blocks, a 125-metre building and a yet-to-be-approved building containing 50 affordable housing units and retail and childcare ­facilities. The sale of these buildings will help fund the market redevelopment.

About 2500 jobs will be created during construction, with 60,000 jobs in the precinct upon completion, states Melbourne’s Herald Sun.

Looking at the environmental angle, The Fifth Estate reports that sustainability is a key feature of the master plan. The project aims to have a zero carbon footprint and include green infrastructure, stormwater harvesting, and recycling programs that provide zero waste.

Lord mayor Robert Doyle described the renewal project as the largest undertaken by the City of Melbourne.

“I’m very happy with this outcome, success is the art of compromise and that’s what we’ve done. The more important thing is we get on with the redevelopment of the market, that’s what we can do from today,” he said.