Development plan could support homestead’s restoration

February 10, 2023 BY

The 165-year old heritage listed Claremont Homestead is in need of major repair. Photo: REALESTATE.COM.AU

PROPONENTS of a refreshed subdivision plan for a historic Waurn Ponds homestead argue development around the heritage-listed building would contribute to its preservation.

Owners of the 165-year-old Claremont Homestead are seeking a five-lot subdivision of the more than 6,000sqm site at 12-16 Kinsmead Street.

In planning documents lodged with the City of Greater Geelong, the proponents list a series of “well documented” dilapidation issues with the building, including vandalism.

It is the second time the owners – the Robates Development Trust – have lodged subdivision plans with the city, with the first in 2022 allowed to lapse.

“The Claremont Homestead has suffered well documented and significant dilapidation resulting from a number of reasons,” the new planning documents stated.

A lack of maintenance over the years has led to “notable” roof leaks, and “black mould has become a more recent issue within the home after firefighters were called to extinguish fires set by youths who have regularly broken into the home and vandalised”.

The Robates Development Trust stated the vandalism had occurred despite “great lengths” to secure the home with perimeter fencing and boarding up entry points, and there had been an unsuccessful arson attempt along with fixtures and fittings being pulled apart.

“Completion of the subdivision and construction of new homes on the surrounding sites will make the homestead far less vulnerable to this type of activity.”

Despite being recognised as having regional significance more than 20 years ago, Claremont Homestead was nearly lost altogether in 2020 when a demolition application was lodged with the city, prompting a last-minute intervention from the state government.

Last year, it was afforded heritage protection after having been purchased in 2020 from the last long-term residents and owners, the Baum family.

Since then, its condition has steadily declined, and its owners now state that for restoration works to be undertaken, “there is a requirement for the project to remain financially viable”.

The National Trust’s Geelong representative Jennifer Bantow has previously expressed concern any subsequent homes built around Claremont could likely shadow or crowd it, given the land is zoned with a building height of up to 11 metres.

She now believes the central Lot 2 that contains the protected house and Norfolk pine could provide appropriate “spatial setting” in the existing plans.

“The homestead and stables could gradually be restored with community involvement, and become a council-supported Waurn Ponds Community Centre, connected to Baum Park,” she said.

The planning documents state that “while not confirmed,” the lot sizes around the homestead were larger than average and likely to be single-storey.

“For this reason we don’t anticipate the development will have a negative impact on the Claremont Homestead’s street presence.”

Public submissions on the application close today (Friday, February 10).