The aim of this project is to draw on local and international expertise to develop and disseminate new models and planning guidelines for 21st century municipal markets in Victoria.
This project has three key objectives:
Municipal markets are an essential element of the food distribution network of established and greenfield communities. Publicly owned markets administered by local councils or not for profit trusts were once seen as essential economic and community infrastructure in the city building process.
These municipal markets were an indispensable component of the food distribution systems of established and new communities alike. Moreover, they were treated as a defining element in urbanism, alongside the civic precinct (town hall and courts), places of worship, and the network of ceremonial and recreational parks.
While we treasure a handful of publicly owned markets as a legacy from past phases of city building, they have disappeared from our standard practices for planning new urban development.
The prospective demise of municipal markets may be attributable to:
Diversity and resilience in urban development warrants greater attention to independent retailing and municipal markets in the planning process. To advance this agenda, better data is required on municipal market business models, to better inform how they can prosper in new urban developments.
We also need to better understand the wider economic, social and environmental benefits of markets, including their contributions to social capital, business formation and enhancement of the public domain. This will frame expectations for the commercial returns that might be expected from market operators. Given the value of collateral benefits generated by this infrastructure, it should not be expected to perform to the benchmarks that might apply to supermarket units.
Recognising that the planning system inevitably favours certain asset owners as a by-product of hierarchy-based activity centre strategies, it is also important to explore how some of this ‘planning gain’ can be tapped to support markets and independent retailing.
The research will be based on extensive local and international case studies, but with an emphasis on distillation of principles applicable in the Australian planning and retail context. The research will also involve analysis of retail spending and turnover densities to define the viable role for markets across retail hierarchies. Specifically, the research will
The research will produce a principles and guidelines ‘manual’ pitched at practitioners in local government and their specialist advisers. The research content would also be amenable to publications pitched at a broader readership, to help build the constituency for municipal markets. The research will contribute to filling a significant knowledge gap in the academic literature on planning, managing and evaluating local community infrastructure. The project will advocate for the important role of 21st municipal markets driven by the following four principles:
The project has been initiated through a partnership between RMIT University’s Centre for Urban Research and SGS Economics and Planning Pty Ltd. We invite other organisations to join the project consortium. The project will initially be funded through partner contributions, with a view to securing additional funding through application to the Australian Research Council’s Linkage scheme.