Planning and discussions are under foot for the redevelopment of two significant sites in Melbourne - The Queen Victoria Market site and the Jolimont Rail Yards site between Russel and Spring Streets.
Both sites are in need of re-development but proposals that have been bandied around in the media and promoted by Robert Doyle and the City Council set alarm bells ringing with private developers buzzing around the projects like scavengers and birds of pray hovering over a two day road kill all wanting a free feed or a coven of vampires who have been offered the keys to the blood bank. Profit and theft of public assets by political mandate.
Queen Victoria Market
Development of the Queen Victoria Market site in the car park south of the goods shed is long over due.
Issues related to the grave sites of Melbourne's pioneer community needs to be addressed with any identified remains respectively moved and relocated. Many of the graves that once comprised Melbourne old cemetery have already been moved and it should be possible to relocate remaining grave sites to facilitate the development of the site.
Any development of the Queen Victoria site to avoid over crowding and visual overshadowing must be subject to strict height limits. The height of any new building must be no higher then the ridge line of the adjacent market goods sheds or a maximum of four stories.
This site needs a creative design solution to enhance the community activities and appeal of the Market precinct. Architects such as Nonda Katsalidis (Fender Katsilidis Architects) designer of the iconic Atlas/Mondo Apartments adjacent to the Market in Franklin Street would be a good choice for the design and planning of the Queen Victoria Market site. The Council should avoid architects such as Denton Corker and Marshal designers of Jeff's Shed and the State Museum and Melbourne failed City Square project.
Council, as owner of the land, has full control of the sites development. The argument supporting higher density high rise development and the need to hand over the project to private developers on economic grounds must be rejected. This site is too significant to be handed over to developers who seek to maximize profit at the expense of the communities interest. Any move to do so should be seen as possible corruption creeping into the Council's major project portfolio.
Jolimont Rail Yards.
This is another site that privet partnership developers would love to get their hands on. This is a site that must also be subject to height limit controls to ensure that the adjacent Federation Square and Yarra River precinct site is not overshadowed.
Whilst fully supporting the need to roof over the rail yards and facilitate a built environment connection from Flinders Street to the Yarra River we should question the need for any proposals that construct any building on the site. There is no reason why the site could not or should not be a hard-edge open space decking, a place for outdoor public gatherings, exhibitions and the like.
Like St Peters Square in Rome, San Marco in Venice or Red Square in Moscow, Melbourne needs a large hard-edge open space precinct. A place that can become the focus of large outdoor activities and community events. Melbourne's designers and planners have for too long suffered a fear of open spaces,, fueled mainly by greed and the need to maximize private profit. It is time to embrace a simple solution to this site which needs little more than covering of the Rail Yards and a connection to the Yarra River.
The Jolimont Rail Yards/Federation Square site should have been the home of Melbourne's Museum. The fact that it isn't is a testament to failed planning policies of the Kennett Government. An open space area would possible allow for the future relocation of the State Museum to this site when the Carlton Gardens site becomes tied and outdated and the Museum needs to expand.
Hopefully future generations will have the opportunity to demolish the Carlton Museum. A future Melbourne Museum should be relocated to back into the heart of the City and incorporated into Federation Square, were it should be, adding much needed vitality and focus to a city that is desperate to regain its identity as the States Capital of Arts and Culture as opposed to being dominated by Crown Casio and a Federation Square that does not function to ts fullest potential