Historic homestead saved

Saved from the wreckers: The main homestead at Down’s Estate in Seaford will not be demolished. Picture: Gary Sissons

Saved from the wreckers: The main homestead at Down’s Estate in Seaford will not be demolished. Picture: Gary Sissons

HISTORIC farm buildings at Down’s Estate have been saved after Frankston councillors decided to overrule council officers to stop the demolition of the historical homestead in Seaford.

At the latest public council meeting last month councillors unanimously backed the retention of a main farm homestead, formerly occupied by renowned whip and saddlemaker Harry Down, and a large shed on the land.

Council officers had previously recommended all buildings on the council-owned site be knocked down. A carport, outbuildings, water tank and windmill frame will be demolished since the structures have been assessed as being unsafe.

Down’s Estate Community Working Group chairman Noel Tudball welcomed Frankston Council’s willingness to listen to community feedback pushing for the historic buildings to be saved.

Councillors agreed to work with the DECWG to establish a steering committee to work on a master plan for the site’s future.

“We are stoked at the decision by the councillors to give conditional permission to proceed and want to thank everyone who has participated in and supported this project over the years,” Mr Tudball said. 

“Now the real work can finally start.”

Frankston Council bought the Down’s Estate land in 2007 to ensure the protection of the adjoining RAMSAR-listed Seaford Wetlands and its wildlife.

The site has fallen into disrepair and has been targeted by vandals on several occasions.

“Council was unanimous that all of the structures identified as unsafe need to be demolished, it supported working with the community working group, to determine long-term plans for the site,” mayor Cr James Dooley said.

“There have been a number of exciting ideas raised about how best to revive and showcase the farmstead. These include transforming Down’s Estate into an eco-park with an onsite cafe and educational historical tours, similar to the Collingwood Children’s Farm.”

The DECWG steering committee will present a master plan to council in June.

Fencing will be installed at the site to try to stop vandals entering the property.

First published in the Frankston Times – 7 March 2016

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