Banyule Homestead Development Halted


Banyule Homestead has been saved from subdivision and development through community and council action

By Dennis O’Connell

At a packed meeting on 10th September 2012, reminiscent of the one on 6th June last year, Banyule Council soundly rejected an application by Banyule Management Ltd, to subdivide the
historic property and erect 2 two storey and one three storey, modernist town houses in its grounds.

Friends of Banyule, together with Heidelberg Historic Society and local residents, conducted an extensive letterboxing and lobbying campaign and submitted detailed submissions to Council objecting to the proposed development. Altogether, thirty seven objections and one petition of ninety signatories were submitted to Council.

You will recall that this matter was being considered under heritage legislation on the last occasion, with Council also rejecting the proposal then. Unfortunately, Heritage Victoria subsequently approved the application subject to certain conditions relating to renovation and maintenance. The matter came back to Council this time however, for a planning application under the Planning and Environment Act and Banyule Planning Scheme.

Council officers produced an extensive report culminating in a detailed recommendation rejecting the proposal on various grounds. These included: being inconsistent with neighbourhood character, impact on vegetation overlay (removal of 11 existing trees and potentially further in future), visual intrusion on neighbouring property and importantly, on views and vistas from the east along the Yarra Trail and from the picnic viewing area  of the Banyule Flats conservation reserve (for which Council are seeking a heritage listing).  Various other grounds as well were raised, including set backs from the reserve, erection of a paling fence, non compliance with Rescode, etc. Melbourne Water also raised  concerns re the visual impact on the amenity of the parklands.

John D’Aloia asked an opening question in question time requesting the agenda item be brought forward so that discussion on Banyule House could commence (to which Council agreed given the large number of people attending). A number of people amongst the 100 or so who attended, spoke in support of the recommendation and against the proposal. These included Jane Crone (heritage property owner in Eaglemont), Kevin Biaggini (Ivanhoe Development Committee), Greame Speers, President, Heidelberg Historic Society and myself on behalf of FOB. All spoke passionately re the matter, all noted the importance of Banyule House to the community and its importance as a significant heritage asset, making it clear to Council, the degree of feeling in the community regarding  unique property after which Banyule is named.

All Councillors present spoke strongly in support of the recommendation, with a  motion moved by Mayor Tom Melican adding an additional Part (b) which  requires … “ Council officers to ensure suitable senior legal counsel and specialist (planning and heritage) representation be engaged in  the event that the matter proceeds to VCAT”. The motion also notes that local MPs within the City of Banyule be advised and that Council seek their support in any appeal to VCAT.  Whether Parliamentary representatives choose to become involved or not, the requirement to engage appropriate senior legal counsel should the matter proceed to VCAT, is significant and will at least give Banyule Council a fighting chance in that event.

Following discussion at length, the amended motion was finally adopted unanimously.  This represents a significant win for the community, for residents, caring enough about this significant piece of Banyule’s and the state’s heritage. Whether by helping with lobbying, letterboxing or turning out in force at the Council meeting on the night.  It is also a win for community participation and democracy at the local level Thanks to all those who assisted with the campaign. Special thanks to local residents Leon Le Rossignole & Max Congdon, as well as Kevin Biaggini, Ivanhoe Committee, and importantly, Janine Rizetti and Graeme Speers of Heidelberg Historic Society, all of whom contributed significantly to what is a very welcome and pleasing outcome.

Our congratulations also to Banyule City Council, all Council officers and to our Mayor Tom Melican, a strong and passionate defender of Banyule’s unique heritage assets and environment.



About Friends of Banyule Inc

President & Public Officer of Friends of Banyule Inc, a community not- for-profit organisation to enhance and protect the environmental assets of Banyule City. Currently fighting the proposed NE Link freeway through one of inner Melbourne's most ecologically sensitive areas and historical areas.
This entry was posted in Banyule Flats, Banyule Homestead, Heidelberg School, Heritage, Volunteering in Banyulule, Warringal Conservation Society and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Banyule Homestead Development Halted

  1. LukeW says:

    Do the residents of the neighboring property who are objecting to this subdivision acknowledge that they are the beneficiaries of previous significant subdivisions of the original property? Are the the objectors seriously raising inconsistencies with the character of the area as an objection? As I understand it, the property would benefit from the development and this protest is very short sighted indeed.

  2. Dennis says:

    The residents in the area surrounding Banyule Homestead bought properties in many cases after the subdivision of the property occurred in the 1960’s. Those who moved in in the intervening period subsequently became aware of Banyule Homestead’s history and significance to the community. Many were saddened to see the homestead sold into private hands after the Kennet government’s sell off of public assets in the 1990’s.

    There clearly are numerous inconsistencies with the neighbourhood character of the area and provisions of the Banyule Planning Scheme regarding the proposed development which were cited in Council’s report. The developement is completely out of context to its loaction adjacent Banyule Homestead and its prominent loacation in the Banyule Flats landscape.

    If proceeded with, the view from the Yarra Trail and picnic viewing area would be punctuated with three modernist box like structures along the ridge line, completely ruining the views and vistas from the Yarra Flats in which Banyule House is such an iconic and historic feature. This is a part of our collective heritage, not just an opportunity for development.


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