Published: Heidelberg Leader June 7 2016
Story by: Laura Armitage
WEDDING bells could be on the horizon for Banyule’s most historic home, which is tipped to become Melbourne’s next premier event venue.
The owners of Banyule Homestead will put a proposal to the council to use the Buckingham Drive property for weddings and other formal events, with its website, The Voeux, advertising it as “coming soon” in January 2017.
Last year the Heidelberg 9085sq m heritage listed property sold to a young Toorak family for $5.2 million with Heidelberg Leader reporting the owners did not plan to subdivide the land.
Heidelberg Leader was alerted to the plans after some community concern that landscaping works on the property could lead to future development.
Community tensions remain high ever since a proposal in 2013 by a former owner to remove 11 trees for a three-storey and two two-storey development was knocked back by both Banyule Council and VCAT as the land was subject to heritage and environmental constraints.
But the Banyule Homestead’s venue manager Claudia Lee confirmed there were no plans to subdivide the property.
Ms Lee said the owners would be applying within the next fortnight to the council to use the homestead for events.
“We plan to have it as a wedding venue or special occasion venue,” Ms Lee said.
“We hope to get it sorted out and we hope the neighbourhood will be happy too,”
She said the landscaping works on site had been cleared by Heritage Victoria and were about maintenance, clean-up and upgrades.
Banyule mayor Craig Langdon said the council had been advised to expect an application to use the homestead as a function centre, and would consider any residents concerns.
He said officers had inspected the site and while permission was not needed for most of the landscaping works, council would consider what action to take on three trees that needed planning permission to be removed.
He said Heritage Victoria has also granted an exemption from requiring a permit to conduct the minor landscaping under the Heritage Act.
The estate is the most historically significant property in Banyule dating back to 1840s.
It is one of the few remaining pre-gold-rush mansions in Melbourne designed by architect John Gill and commissioned by English-born pioneer Joseph Hawdon in 1846.
Features include a 600-bottle wine cellar, an established olive grove and fruit orchard, a synthetic grass tennis court, pool, alfresco terraces with riverside views, formal lounge, dining and sitting rooms with six large open fireplaces in the historic end of the b