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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  1. 1
    Carmela Sidiropoulos

    The National Trust have not been inside this house nor on the property to ascertain an informed view of the the state of the home. Heritage Victoria prepared a report dated 16 August 2019 stating that the house is not of significance and is not worthy of protection! The photos used of the home are dated and not an accurate reflection of the current state of the home. This is a clear case of bullying and a waste of resources! Shame on you National Trust.

  2. 2
    Effie Kallinicos

    A family with young children have purchased this house and did so after reading the C37 Bayside Panel report prepared back in 2004 which states the house was on its last legs and not worthy of protection. The National Trust have not been inside the home nor on the property. How can you purport to have a view on a home you have not been in? I expected higher standards of the National Trust! Surely there are better ways to spend the valuable donations of Victorians! Shameful bullying behaviour.

  3. 3
    Linda Hirsch

    If the home was of such significance why didn’t the National Trust buy it when it was up for sale? Is the National Trust going to pay for the ongoing maintenance of this home which will clearly cost a fortune as the house is run down and on its last legs. It’s easy to form a view when you don’t have to foot the bill! How distressing for the family who own and live in the home. National Trust you are a bully!

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