Heritage Victoria Grants Approval for Iconic Queen Victoria Market Redevelopment

Queen Victoria Market Lendlease Architectural Render (Image: NH Architecture)
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In a significant milestone, the proposed redevelopment of the southern end of Naarm/Melbourne’s iconic Queen Victoria Market (QVM) is one step closer to realization. Heritage Victoria has granted permit approval for the heritage aspects of the plan, marking a crucial advancement for the envisioned Gurrowa Place.

Lendlease is leading this significant urban renewal project with the City of Melbourne. Unveiled in June 2023, the mixed-use redevelopment project , estimated at $1.7 billion, is designed by a collaborative team including NH Architecture, Kerstin Thompson Architects, 3XN Australia, Searle × Waldron Architecture, Openwork, McGregor Coxall, Lovell Chen, and Urbis. The vision encompasses the creation of Gurrowa Place, featuring three towers that will offer a blend of student accommodation, residential apartments, and commercial workspaces. The project team will aim to enhance the connection between the Queen Victoria Market and the CBD, creating a vibrant, meaningful, and inclusive precinct to complement and enhance the existing market.

Queen Victoria Market Redevelopment by Lendlease (Image: NH Architecture)
^Queen Victoria Market Redevelopment by Lendlease (Image: NH Architecture)
Queen Victoria Market Melbourne Public Open Space (Image: NH Architecture)
^Queen Victoria Market Melbourne Public Open Space (Image: NH Architecture)

The heritage permit application submitted to Heritage Victoria in the same month focused on the conservation and adaptive re-use of stores on Franklin Street, the transformation of the open-air car park into 1.8 hectares of public open space, and the addition of towers above the Franklin Street stores.

Heritage Victoria’s approval hinged on the understanding that only Towers One and Two partially fall under the Heritage Act 2017. Their cantilever design, extending into the airspace above Franklin Street stores canopy, was deemed the most impactful part of the development. However, Heritage Victoria concluded that this aspect would have a limited impact on the cultural heritage significance of QVM when considered in the context of the entire site.

The conservation efforts for the Franklin Street Stores were viewed as positive, removing unsympathetic accretions, reconstructing removed elements, and restoring the stores to an earlier and more appropriate appearance. The replacement of the existing car park with public open space, named Market Square, was seen as a respectful nod to the site’s former use as a cemetery.

Notably, Tower Three and the Queens Corner Building were excluded from the heritage permit application, as they did not have relevant heritage requirements.

The City of Melbourne envisions the Gurrowa Place precinct as complementary to nearby completed or upcoming projects, including heritage shed restoration, the new Munro library and community hub, hospitality and retail offerings in the Munro development, and Mirvac’s build-to-rent project on Therry Street.

The heritage permit will undergo a separate assessment by the state planning department. It is important to note that the permit will expire if construction does not commence within two years and will no longer apply if the project remains incomplete after six years from the permit issue date. This development marks a significant stride toward transforming the southern precinct of the Queen Victoria Market into Gurrowa Place.

Since its inception as Melbourne’s primary wholesale market, the Queen Victoria Market has undergone a successful transformation into a bustling retail hub during the 1970s. Throughout its evolution, this iconic market has played a pivotal role in shaping the economic and social narrative of the city.

Queen Victoria Market Heritage Building (Image: Visit Melbourne)
^Queen Victoria Market Heritage Building (Image: Visit Melbourne)
Queen Victoria Market Melbourne in the Evening (Image: NH Architecture)
^Queen Victoria Market Melbourne in the Evening (Image: NH Architecture)

Distinguished as the largest and most concentrated trading venue exclusively reserved for independently operated businesses in Australia, the Queen Victoria Market stands as a testament to Melbourne’s vibrant history. Originally established in the 1870s, the site carries cultural and historical significance, rooted in its early days as Naarm/Melbourne’s inaugural official cemetery from 1837. This historical depth, marked by an estimated 6,500 to 9,000 burials, remains an integral element in the narrative of early Melbourne’s development.

Today, the market continues to be a central hub in Melbourne’s cultural, business, and social life. Recognizing its enduring importance, the Queen Victoria Market was formally acknowledged for inclusion on the Victorian Heritage Register in 1989 and the National Heritage List in 2018.

With continuous service to the people of Melbourne since at least 1878, the market’s historical roots are further underscored by its previous role as Melbourne’s inaugural official cemetery between 1837 and 1854. This rich historical tapestry contributes to the market’s ongoing significance and cultural resonance within the city’s dynamic landscape.

This story was originally reported by ArchitectureAU

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