The Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), issued a decision on 23rd September 2012, in the matter of Banyule House; an appeal against a decision by Council to refuse an application by Banyule Management Ltd to subdivide the National Trust listed property and construct three contemporary town houses in its grounds.
You will recall that this matter raised a great deal of passionate and strident opposition amongst the community, with a strong campaign being run by residents, Heidelberg Historic Society and Friends of Banyule, in opposition to the proposal. This culminated in a packed meeting of Council on 10th September 2012, at which the application was refused. Banyule Management Ltd subsequently lodged an appeal in VCAT against Council’s decision. Friends of Banyule (FOB) appeared in the hearing supporting Council, Heidelberg Historic Society and residents in arguing the case against the appeal and for refusal of the permit.
The VCAT decision upholds Council’s decision and refuses the application. It does however, leave the door open for “… A reduced development which provides for an appropriate setback from the homestead and the escarpment boundary, suitable landscaping and does not present unreasonable visual bulk to the rear open space of 58 Buckingham Drive…”. In other words, the applicant would now need to come back with a fresh application on a reduced scale and start again with a new proposal submitted to Council.
What this means for the earlier decision by Heritage Victoria on 31st August 2011, which provided conditional approval on the basis that Banyule Management set aside an amount as a bank guarantee in the sum of $400,000 for repair and restoration of Banyule House, is an open question.
The decision is a victory for residents and the community in a successful campaign to fight for and protect, this significant piece of Banyule’s and the State’s heritage.
To read VCAT’s response in full, click.