Bayside City Council seeks interim heritage overlay for Esme Johnston House


In early October, the City of Bayside applied to the Planning Minister for an interim heritage overlay for the Esme Johnston House in Brighton, which is currently under threat of demolition for the construction of townhouses on the site. Designed by Esme Johnston, a journalist who documented the design and construction of her house in Australia Home Beautiful magazine, it is a rare example of a house designed by a woman during the interwar period.

The Heritage Assessment follows a vote by City of Bayside Councillors in September to support an assessment of the place for potential local heritage significance. The assessment of the place has now been completed and has found it to be of historical, aesthetic and social significance to the City of Bayside. Council has now prepared a citation and planning scheme amendment to apply permanent heritage controls to the property.

The Minister for Planning will need to make a decision on the application prior to a VCAT hearing scheduled for December to determine the application submitted for the redevelopment of the site in May.

We applaud Council for taking active steps to retain the property. The National Trust alongside the community have led a strong advocacy campaign to save the house, which has received media coverage in the Age.

The house was also nominated to the Victorian Heritage Register by residents as a rare example of a house dating to the 1920s which was designed and built by a woman. However, following an assessment of the nomination, the Executive Director of Heritage Victoria recommended that the place not be included in the Register.

The community and the National Trust intend to appeal the Executive Directors decision to the Heritage Council of Victoria and a hearing will be scheduled in the coming months.

Read more via the Age here.

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