Plans put on hold to partially close Cecil St at South Melbourne Market

Plans put on hold to partially close Cecil St at South Melbourne Market
Brendan Rees

A plan to permanently close a suburban street to traffic next to the South Melbourne Market will be held off following objections from the community.   

The proposal to partially close northbound traffic on Cecil St was initially supported by the City of Port Phillip in 2022 after a study showed it would improve the intersection performances of York/Cecil streets and Coventry/Cecil streets.

But that plan will now be reassessed after councillors supported a motion at their May 15 meeting to further investigate its merits along the popular culinary strip after a community survey found the proposal would have a negative impact on the area.   

The survey, conducted from November 3 to December 3 last year, revealed 40 per cent of respondents objected to the proposal while 30 per cent were in favour and 30 per cent were undecided.

The survey was completed by 46 market traders, 34 local traders, and 783 members of the public.

Asked if Cecil St was to be permanently closed between York and Coventry streets, which was trialled in 2021, more than 50 per cent of respondents said they would like to see more public realm features, including increased public seating, increased restaurant/dining, green space, children’s play areas, and dog-friendly areas.

The proposal to close Cecil St is part of various capital works projects at the South Melbourne Market, which will be combined into “one overarching aligned and comprehensive master plan” called Project Connect from July 1.

Cr Rhonda Clark, who successfully moved the motion, which also sought to investigate plans to extend outdoor dining following community feedback, said closing Cecil St would have “broader consequences for the traders and residents”.

“We need to consider those impacts beyond the somewhat smaller footprint of the South Melbourne Market even though the market is obviously a very significant asset in South Melbourne,” she said.

“It’s to have that discussion on its own rather than being part of a broader or part of our South Melbourne Market capital works upgrade.”

Cr Marcus Pearl supported the motion, saying it would ensure council gets the “best result for everybody with good consultation”.

“The market committee and the market management manage the footprint of the market, so they manage up to the border, which is the footpath. Anything outside that realm is our responsibility. It’s [the] council’s responsibility,” he said.

“By us endorsing this report and this concept, we’re effectively giving them the ability to endorse something outside their remit. That road is not in their remit, the surrounding area, the tram stop, etc is not in their remit. It’s in our remit. It’s in our control.”


Cr Pearl added, “It’s good governance, not necessarily an extra hurdle … and given the volume of projects we have going through our pipeline at the moment and our track record with them, we need to pay very close attention to any form of creep outside of people’s remits.”


The community was also asked for their feedback on the market’s trading hours, which are not proposed to change at this stage.

The market’s capital works program includes a revamp of existing toilets and new amenities, such as more bath facilities, improved pedestrian gradients, two new lifts and stairs, smoke extraction fans above aisle B and emergency access stairs from the rooftop carpark on York St.

Proposed projects along Coventry St include extending the footpath, replacing angle parking with parallel parking spaces/loading spaces, and providing more public realm for seating and people movement. 

The council approved $17.2 million in funding over eight years through its 2023-24 budget process to deliver a program of improvements alongside the existing compliance and capital works program for the market.

A council report for Cecil St will come back to council at a later date. •


Caption: A trial closure of Cecil St in January 2021 saw a successful activation of the street.

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