Banyule – No-one’s getting married there any time soon – an update, and Federation Square gets a very big shed!

A couple of weeks ago, we reported that the Banyule Council had challenged the current owners of the Banyule Homestead over their plans for its proposed use as a Wedding Venue. We can now report that this application has been defeated in VCAT and the building will remain as it is now – a private residence on a private estate.


Situated on the banks of the Yarra River, the building is in fact one of Melbourne’s oldest, and possibly most interesting original grand mansions. It was constructed in 1846 – an Elizabethan style building unique to the times in Victoria.

You can refer to our previous blog here

Here is a report from News Ltd on the VCAT result.

Banyule Homestead plans slapped down by VCAT


The elegant mansion looks out across the Yarra River

PLANS to turn one of the state’s oldest surviving houses, the heritage-protected Banyule Homestead, next to the Yarra River in Heidelberg, into a wedding venue have been rejected by VCAT.

Banyule Homestead will not be turned into a wedding venue after plans were rejected by VCAT.Source:Supplied

PLANS to turn one of the state’s oldest surviving houses, Banyule Homestead, next to the Yarra River in Heidelberg, into a wedding venue have been rejected by VCAT.

The elegant 1846 property’s Toorak owners applied for a permit to host up to 160 people, obtain a liquor license, build 48 car parks, convert an existing garage into a kitchen and provide acoustic fencing after purchasing the property at 60 Buckingham Drive for $5.2 million in 2015.


 It sold in 2015 for $5.2 million

The eight-bedroom mansion on about 9100sq m was built for Sydney overlander Joseph Hawdon and designed by colonial architect John Gill, and has been used as the backdrop for Shaun Micallef series The Ex-PM.

It’s considered of historical significance to Victoria for its link to Hawdon.

Heritage Council of Victoria documents state it’s architecturally significant as “one of the earliest surviving houses in Victoria” and “a rare example of a pre-gold rush house in Melbourne to have retained a substantial part of its original appearance and setting.”


Inside the stately property


Shaun Micallef’s ‘The Ex-PM’ has been filmed there

It’s also “a rare example of the use of the Elizabethan style in Victoria, and the only known example of the adoption of this style by Gill.”

VCAT members concluded the plan was not suitable for the neighbourhood.


Also of interest is the current stoush over Federation Square. Some of our readers were concerned regarding the interim Heritage listing imposed by Heritage Victoria, fearing the ruling was ‘standing in the way of progress’.


But fear not! The Melbourne Tunnel Authority has announced plans to remove the Visitors Centre on the corner of Flinders St and Swanston St (opposite St Paul’s Cathedral) and replace the Visitor’s Centre with the biggest shed Melbourne has ever seen. Now there’s progress for you.

Read about it here.

Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan recently announced that work to build an entrance at Fed Square for the new underground Town Hall Station as part of the Melbourne Metro Tunnel project will begin shortly.

The works mean there will be some traffic changes in place, including Flinders Street being reduced by one traffic lane westbound between Russell and Swanston streets.  Drivers will still have one left-turning lane from Flinders Street into St Kilda Road, and one lane travelling ahead.


Rail Projects Victoria is encouraging motorists to plan ahead and allow up to an extra 15 minutes if travelling through this stretch of Flinders Street.

From 2019, following the completion of piling works on the site, an acoustic shed will be built over the Melbourne Metro Tunnel site to reduce noise, dust and light from 24/7 excavation and tunnelling.

This acoustic shed will also allow the Metro Tunnel works to move as quickly and quietly as possible, and will minimise disruption for visitors, staff and tenants.

When complete, the Town Hall Station will make it easier for people to reach some of Melbourne’s key tourist destination – Fed Square.  The station will also have a direct underground connection to Flinders Street Station, so passengers can connect seamlessly with City Loop services.

Even through these times of disruption, there’s always plenty to do at Fed Square!

New signage on site will ensure visitors can navigate through the precinct in a safe and supported manner, and great events and activations will ensure Fed Square remains Melbourne’s place to be!



Several changes had been planned for the iconic Federation Square in Melbourne as part of the redevelopment project including the demolition of the Yarra building to make way for Apple’s flagship store and the construction of a Metro tunnel entrance.

Observing that “there may be a prima facie case for the inclusion of this place in the Victorian Heritage Register”, the executive director of Heritage Victoria Steven Avery said that the planned redevelopment works may “detrimentally affect its cultural heritage significance”.


However, this decision has not gone down very well with the Victorian Government, given that the Federation Square was built just 16 years ago and cannot really be considered a heritage asset. Classifying modern sites as heritage structures could impact future projects, according to tourism minister John Erin.

But a building’s age is not a factor for inclusion in the heritage list as per the Heritage Act 1995; several Melbourne buildings have been added to the Victorian Heritage Register at a much younger age including the National Gallery of Victoria, which opened on 20 August 1968, and was added to the register in 1982.

The Royal Historical Society of Victoria has supported Federation Square’s nomination for inclusion in the heritage register with the chair of its heritage committee, Charles Sowerwine, saying: “In architectural terms, it embodies a remarkably coherent example of late 20th-Century architecture. In civic terms, it has become a truly public civic square.”


In both cases watch that space. The battle for Federation Square isn’t over just yet. It would appear the Apple ‘Pagoda’ will be unlikely to appear, but as can be seen the State Government are concerned here with precedent – should 16 year old buildings be heritage listed. It’s a very interesting question.

balance logo 20150209a

Balance Architecture recognises the importance of the preservation of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s