The Victorian Civil & Administrative Tribunal handed down its decision on 23 September 2013 affirming the decision of the Banyule Council to refuse a planning permit in respect of Banyule Homestead: Banyule Management P/L v Banyule City Council [2013] VCAT 1652.

The respondent parties opposing the application were Banyule City Council, the Heidelberg Historical Society, Friends of Banyule and a number of concerned local residents.
The proposed development consisted of the construction of 3 contemporary style townhouses, on land to be sub-divided off from the site of the homestead. A number of trees would have to be removed.

Background

Banyule Homestead is registered on the Victorian Heritage Register (VHR 926), the Banyule Heritage database (HO 13), the National Trust register (B1085) and the Register of the National Estate, by reason of the historical and architectural significance of the building and the land. Notwithstanding the heritage status accorded to the homestead site, in August 2011, Heritage Victoria granted a permit for the subdivision of the land and conservation work on the homestead building subject to certain conditions being complied with.
In September 2012, Banyule City Council decided to refuse a planning permit for the proposed development on a number of grounds, including the design and neighbourhood character of the proposed development, the mass and scale of the proposed development, the lack of open space, the removal of vegetation and breach of Rescode provisions.

VCAT decision

VCAT has found the proposal did not respond appropriately to its immediate context interfacing with the Yarra River Corridor. The landscaping proposed was insufficient and a greater setback was required on the eastern boundary facing the Banyule Flatlands. The context and the visual bulk of the proposal was also inappropriate with respect to a neighbouring property. The Tribunal also found that land surrounding the Homestead could accommodate additional building development provided the design of the proposal responded to the environmental context and the neighbourhood character in a sensitive way.
The Tribunal recognized the homestead to be of historical significance. However, the Tribunal ruled, based on legal precedent, that the heritage grounds relied upon by the Heidelberg Historical Society as grounds to refuse a permit were not a relevant consideration before the Tribunal.
If a developer now wishes to pursue a new development proposal, it will be necessary for them to start afresh with an entirely new proposal. This would involve seeking permits from Heritage Victoria and Banyule Council.