Too quiet in Village St

Too quiet in Village St

By Rhonda Dredge

A sunny laneway with a takeaway window, providing niche, local food, has become almost the norm for the inner suburbs.

But in the corporate section of Docklands, nearby residents can only dream about such a streetscape.

Cliff Steele is doing just that, while confined to his apartment in Victoria Point.

Usually the architectural draftsman walks to his office in Collingwood and he has no reason to come down to Village St.

There’s nothing there to attract local residents except, perhaps, on a Friday night pre-pandemic when Platform 28 or other bars on the corner are open.

“It has good bones,” Cliff said, pointing out the ways Goods Shed 2 meets the cobblestones of the street without any curbs.

The Docklander has a vision of how the street could be much better. “It needs more things happening. It’s too quiet. It’s like a dormitory,” he said.

Now is the time for rethinking the way this 1889 railway freight shed is used. Similar buildings overseas have been converted imaginatively into markets such as Covent Garden in London or museums such as Musee D’Orsay in Paris.

“This could be made beautiful,” Cliff said of the verandahs if the building was opened to the street. He sees bifold doors opening to providores and delicatessens where locals can safely shop in outside areas.

Cliff usually shops in Hawksburn near his daughter’s house where he enjoys the intimacy of small bespoke businesses such as the butcher, deli and French restaurant but he has been forced to think more locally during the shutdown.

“It really upsets me,” he told Docklands News. “It’s one of the few old buildings in Docklands. It’s such a nice building going to waste. It’s only seen by people who work in the office. I’m not sure if they can see the vaulted ceiling.”

The Goods Shed, which is protected by the National Trust, abuts Collins Square and was divided in 2000 when the Collins St extension was built. The area has been particularly quiet since the corporates sent staff home during the pandemic.

Amelia Cater, of Lendlease, developers of the nearby Melbourne Quarter, said it was the kind of idea that LendLease would support. “Our tag line is creating better spaces," she said. 

Goods Shed 2 is mostly leased by the Victorian Government. In the past Docklands did not have the critical population mass for conversion such as a market but the small office cubicles in the building may no longer be viable.

The idea is a timely one that would need City of Melbourne support to get off the ground •

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August 3rd, 2022 - Docklands News
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