The next chapter in Banyule Homestead’s long history has started. It opens with a proposal to transform Banyule into a function centre called ‘The Voeux’.
On 7 June 2015 the Heidelberg Leader carried this story:
This was, of course, not news for neighbours who had been watching, with some alarm, as trees were felled, water tanks installed and landscaping commenced in the garden. Even more alarming has been the advertising of the function centre ‘The Voeux’ that proclaims that it is “coming soon in January 2017”.
See The Voeux website here.
Banyule Council’s response so far:
Banyule Council, which had received many complaints and queries about the works being undertaken at the site, issued the following Q&A sheet.
Residents and interest groups have recently expressed concerns about works being done at Banyule Homestead in Buckingham Drive, Heidelberg.
The following questions and answers, which will be updated as required, provide an overview of the current situation.
What is Banyule Homestead?
The homestead is an ‘A’ grade heritage listed property dating back to the 1840s, which is on the Victorian Heritage Register.
Is the homestead owned by Council?
No. The property is privately owned.
What recent works have been done on the site?
Landscaping works have comprised: upgrades to paths, terraces, lawns and a car parking area; removal of vegetation; replantings; and other minor works
Why is Banyule Homestead treated differently to other properties in Banyule?
Because of its historic significance, Banyule Homestead is on the Victorian Heritage Register and is covered with a Heritage Overlay in the Banyule Planning Scheme, which means it is subject to state and local controls in relation to what can and cannot occur on the site.
What powers do Heritage Victoria and Council have when it comes to protecting Banyule Homestead?
Heritage Victoria is responsible for protecting the heritage of Banyule Homestead while Council’s role as the responsible authority is to consider any changes to the use of the site, and any buildings and works associated with a change of use of the site.
Has Heritage Victoria provided permit exemptions for the external works that have occurred?
Under Section 66 (3) of the Heritage Act 1995, Heritage Victoria gave the owners of Banyule Homestead permit exemptions for:
- Tree works, in accordance with Australian Standards, to pre-1995 trees;
- Removal of trees planted after 1995, including a Pyrus hedge, that were of no cultural heritage value;
- Removal of recent vegetable beds and small, hard landscape elements dating from the 1990s;
- Upgrades of paths and terraces;
- Creation of a ceremony area near the Algerian Oak tree;
- Conversion of the swimming pool to an ornamental pond;
- An upgrade of the exiting car park; and
- Other related external works.
Have any of the works been done without appropriate permits?
Yes, in recent weeks three native trees were removed from the site without an appropriate planning permit from Banyule Council. Appropriate action has been taken against the owner in relation to the illegal removal of these trees. Council officers, who have inspected the site on a number of occasions, are satisfied that the remainder of works on the site did not require a planning permit from Council.
What protection measures are in place to protect remaining trees?
Council is working with the property owner to ensure that tree protection zones are established on site and Council is also closely monitoring the situation.
Are painting works on the outside of the building approved?
The painting of heritage listed buildings is the responsibility of Heritage Victoria. Council has notified Heritage Victoria about resident concerns and has asked that it investigate and monitor external painting at the site.
Has Council received an application for a change of use for the site?
No, Council has not received an application for any change of use for the site. However, the owners have indicated that an application will be lodged in the coming weeks. Once it receives the planning application, Council will appropriately advertise the planning application and consider it on its merits.
Does the owner propose to use Banyule Homestead as a functions venue?
While Council has not yet received an application for a change of use of this nature, the owners of the property have created and website and Facebook page saying that this is their plan.
Heritage Victoria Planning Application
As Banyule Homestead is listed on the Victorian Heritage Database, permission has to be received from Heritage Victoria before any substantial work that might affect the heritage value of the property is undertaken. If you’ve been following this site for a while, you’ll remember that in 2013 Heritage Victoria granted a permit for the subdivision of part of the surrounding land in exchange for external work on the property. Banyule Council refused a permit for the subdivision, and that refusal was upheld at VCAT. Now that there is a new proposal for internal and external works on the property, the owners need to obtain a permit from Heritage Victoria. They would need to do this if they intended keeping it as a private home as well.
Heritage Victoria’s concern is with the cultural heritage significance of the registered place only. They do not deal with matters like change of use, car parking, noise, traffic impacts or other planning issues. They are matters for Banyule Council.
On 20/7/16 The Age carried this public notice for an application to Heritage Victoria under the Heritage Act 1996. It can be found on p. 31, in the Business Age section.
If you go to Heritage Victoria’s site, you’ll see it under ‘Currently Advertised Permits’
The documents available at this site are:
Submissions to Heritage Victoria are due on 10th August 2016
The whole purpose of a heritage policy is a recognition that some buildings and locations belong, to some extent, to us all- that the owner is a custodian of an aspect of shared heritage. This means that you can put a submission to Heritage Victoria. You don’t need to be a neighbour. The questions about noise, traffic etc. are for another day. At this stage, it’s about the impact of the proposed works on Banyule Homestead itself.