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Banyule Estate Subdivision Affair of 1958

Banyule Estate Story

Take a walk along the Main Yarra Trail, from Plymouth Street near the tennis courts, over Banyule Creek, past the Native Gardens and the Banyule Flats sports grounds. You get fine views of Banyule house, perched on the hill above the flood prone river flats. Swamps are a haven for birds. The occasional tiger snake slithers across the path.
Now take a sharp right and cut back across the paddocks towards Banyule House. Occasional old fence posts and gates can still be seen. At various points, you cross drainage channels, some still lined by the remnants of introduced shrubs. A group of deciduous trees cluster near the river bank. A tumble down collection of cattle yards and sheds confronts you, just before you return to the tennis courts.
This is the closest you will see to the farmland of old Banyule. The rest has disappeared under the streets and houses of modern day Heidelberg and Rosanna.

History of Banyule

By 1846, Joseph Hawdon, famous as an overlander, was the owner of Banyule house and farm.
In 1853, the area was divided into a number of small holdings.
In the 1890s, it remained a substantial estate of 750 acres.
In 1942, the Lyon family established Banyule as a dairy stud farm.
1958 saw the sale of Banyule to a company known as Banyule Pty Ltd, headed by well known developer Stanley Korman.

Banyule Estate Subdivided

The following selection of newspaper articles from 1958 provide an account of the controversy surrounding the subdividing of Banyule.
These "historical documents" are included in full. Draw your own conclusions about their contents.
Suffice to say that this part of Heidelberg is a wonderful place to live, with its parks, walks, river bank and wild life - even the tiger snakes!

Article 1 on 1958 Banyule Estate Subdivision

No date or newspaper was recorded with the newpaper clipping from which this article was taken. It might be July 1958, when the planned Stanhill development of Banyule Estate was under discussion.


The Heidelberg Council planning officer, Mr J.H. Strover, has advised the council in a special report that almost twice the present population of Heidelberg could be housed in the present residential-zone area.
He prepared his report on May 12 but the council has kept it secret.
Mr Strover opposed the Stanhill Pty Ltd. plan to build a £3 million housing estate on land zoned as rural in the Master Plan.
He prepared his report on May 12, but the council kept it secret.
The town clerk, Mr Phillips, said today: "I am surprised that a copy of the report has got out. someone has committed a grave breach of confidence in making the report available for publication."
The Mayor, Cr. Ashley, said: "I will not comment other than to say, frankly, you should not have the report. The council can comment on it if it wants to but, as an individual, I do not want to discuss it."
The report says: "No sound reason can be deduced for permitting residential development in a zoned rural area, when there is so much undeveloped land in the municipality which is zoned for residential purposes...
"The present population of the municipality is about 65,000 and the population that can be contained within the present residentially-zoned area is 125,000."
Despite the Strover report, the council last week decided to give Stanhill Pty. Ltd. the right to build on 150 acres of the 274-acre Banyule Estate on the banks of the Yarra.
The Member for Ivanhoe, Mr Vernon Christie, MLA, who disclosed that the council was considering the proposal, has since called on councillors to rescind their decision. He has accused the Board of works of "monkeying" with the Master Plan.
The Board of Works, custodian of Melbourne's costly Master Plan, told the council that it would not object to he Stanhill scheme.
Stanhill Pty Ltd., a real estate company controlled by Mr Stanley Korman, wrote to each member of Heidelberg Council before the final decision was made.
The letter pointed out the "advantages" of the proposition, especially the fact that the council would receive about £10,000 a year in rates instead of the present £356/10/6.
The Stanhill letter, dated June 20, was signed by the manager, Mr A. Williams.
Mr Strover said today that as a council officer he could not discuss the report, or make any statement.


Mr Strover said in his report that as instructed by his council, he tried to obtain the views of the Board of Works on the Stanhill proposal but the best that could be done in the time available was to discuss the matter of the telephone with Mr Borrie, the chief planner.
From Mr Borrie's comments it was obvious the board was prepared to depart from the principles of the rural zone laid down when the Master Plan was being prepared, namely, to protect the rural character of the zone, and to preserve for primary production land not necessary to house the people for whom the city was planned, and to help control the uneconomic spread of the metropolitan area.
Any extensive residential encroachment into the rural area, unless compensated by additional industrial land, schools, hospitals and playing fields would result in unbalance.


Once the boundary between residential and rural zones was jumped, there could be no logical argument to stop similar housing developments along the Yarra valley.
Many people bought land in the rural zone after examining the board's exhibited scheme to enjoy the special amenities they considered existed in such a zone. They had a right at least to be advised of any new policies affecting their land.
The board's policy could favor the large-scale developer and speculator at the expense of the small builder, who would never be able to stand the financial burden involved in providing all services and roads.
He recommended that Stanhill be told the council would welcome the type of development proposed anywhere in the residential zone.